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Whenever you face a difficult decision in your personal life, you usually do one of two things: you either talk to your wife, husband or significant other, or you ask your friends. Sometimes, you do both. You don't typically open up the conversation to strangers. The people closest to you understand you - they know what makes you tick, what they like about you, and what they don't want to see change.

The same logic applies to many of the business decisions facing brands and organizations. The people closest to your product and service have an intimate understanding of what you offer and, most importantly, what they like about what you offer. Engaged core consumers can give you deeper insights than an anonymous group of survey respondents, many of whom know little about your brand or organization and may have little interest in what it offers. Anonymous ad hoc surveys can still be valuable when you need a detached opinion, but it's no longer the only effective way to gain insights.

Internet technology makes it possible to hold conversations among your core customers quickly, easily and inexpensively. And, by using a profiled Insight Community, you can keep the conversation going - following up on previous conversations with individual consumers, building insight upon insight.

One of our radio clients, Corus Radio in Canada, recently added an interesting twist to their conversations with listeners. Every quarter, Corus sends out a brief, "how-are-we-doing" survey to their members, asking them to rate their radio stations' performance over the past few months, as well as what they heard that they liked or didn't like. The results help them keep a close eye on satisfaction as well as awareness and acceptance of recent changes to their stations.

From this survey, a list of station evangelists was identified and asked if they would be interested in a follow-up phone conversation with Dave Farough, VP: Brands, Programming & New Media for Corus Radio. Dave spent time with these members to understand them better as loyal listeners but also as brand advocates who could spread the word about the Corus radio stations in person and through social media.

Do the brand ambassadors on your insight community tell you what you need to hear, or just what you want to hear? Dave's experience is that given the opportunity to speak their mind, your most loyal customers are often your most candid critics. After all, who can you trust to tell you the honest truth, if not your closest friends?

How to Use an Insight Community to Improve Customer Experience

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