Inside VC puts the spotlight on the folks that make Vision Critical the world's top provider of insight communities. This week's focus: Stephane Zahrai, Business Development Associate from Vision Critical UK.
Stephane joined Vision Critical in January 2013, but he's not exactly new to the team. In August 2011, Stephane first joined our UK office as an intern. After completing his one-year internship, Stephane completed his Master's of Management degree in France before re-joining the team earlier this year.
What does your team do?
Insight communities aren't just for engaging customers; they can help reach any stakeholder that an organization needs to talk to. For example. internal communications or human resources teams use an insight community to engage employees while civil organizations use it to engage citizens. Each organization and each department needs to engage stakeholders to some extent, so our team's job is to figure out how we can shape our product offering to their unique needs. We learn about an organization's biggest challenges and business functions, listen to what they need, and then we figure out how Vision Critical can help.
What is the best part about your job at Vision Critical?
It's rewarding when I talk to companies who already understand the importance of getting the insights of stakeholders in real time. More organizations think that now is the right time to engage stakeholders and customers. Many people outside of the research discipline are starting to get how insight communities can help their organizations. People want to be heard and companies want to listen - our software enables brands to make both happen.
What's the most important thing people need to know about managing insight communities?
It's fairly easy to set up an insight community, but it takes some effort to encourage a two-way dialogue. Remember: People in your insight community use their free time to participate. Ongoing engagement is key to get people to give their opinions every time.
Be creative and try different ways of keeping people interested; ask them what they expect from the community and let that guide your engagement activities. More importantly, give feedback to the members of your insight community to let them know what their input and participation is achieving. People want to know that they've been heard, so make their voice count.
What do you think research and insight communities will look like in three years?
Research will be more integrated with marketing in three years. We're already seeing insight-driven companies deliver better business results - this will encourage more brands to learn more about engaging their customers.
Insight communities have an exciting future ahead. Brands are already using insight communities for collaboration and co-creation, and I see more companies doing this more frequently in the age of the customer.
If you could ask any question on the Angus Reid Forum or the Springboard network, just to satisfy your own curiosity, what would it be?
Who is your role model and why? (My answer would be Nelson Mandela.)