One of the analogies that we often use to describe a community panel is that it is like having a roomful of customers just down the hall. Whenever you have a business issue you can simply wander down, open the door and ask for their feedback.
Just think about this, no matter what your business problem is with a community panel, you are steps away from discovering the opinions of the people that matter most to your business. You no longer have to wait three weeks for a survey to be completed; you don't have to wade through an onslaught of public comments looking for people who may or may not be your customers. They are already there, waiting and excited to tell you what they think about your new product idea, your new ad campaign, or to share ways they think you could improve.
In 2011, Forrester Research, Inc. released a report entitled "Competitive Strategy in the Age of the Customer", where they introduced their concept of the "Age of the Customer." This concept demonstrates how businesses can't just be customer-centric, but rather, customer-obsessed. A major tenant of this transformation is that companies need to invest in obtaining real-time insights.
These days, when people think of real-time insights, their initial thought turns to social media monitoring where you can tune into what people are saying about your brand on twitter, blogs, review sites and thousands of other social media channels. This is an unprecedented source of data and should be mined for every available insight. However, what we have learned is that there is one place where social media monitoring falls short; people aren't always talking about what you want them to talk about. Unless you have a nation of fans that are predicting your future moves, they are most likely talking about things that are happening now or in the past. There is no way to access real-time feedback on what you are planning to do. And more specifically from the exact customers you need to hear from.
This is where your roomful of customers can be of assistance. In their report, Forrester discussed our client NASCAR, and how they have built the community panel, Fan Council. A roomful of their most passionate fans provide them with near instant feedback on everything from new marketing initiatives to the changes in the rules of the sport itself.
Our community panel of the year winners Discovery Communications describe their room of customers as follows: "The Influencer Panel very quickly developed a reputation within the Discovery executive team as a tool for almost immediate viewer feedback, and it is now asked for by name."
In fact, we have helped over 600 companies build their own rooms of customers. And we are enjoying watching these companies make the switch from customer-centric to customer-obsessed.
Join us for our upcoming webinar with Forrester Research, Inc. on the "Age of the Customer."
The live webinar will be held on Wednesday, October 24 at 10AM Pacific / 1PM Eastern.
Register now for this webinar
During this webinar, Forrester Research, Inc. Analyst Roxana Strohmenger and Vision Critical EVP of Sales, Mark Bergen will address key issues:
- How market insights departments can change to support the "Age of the Customer"
- The changing behaviors of customers, with the increase in mobile and social technologies, and how your insight programs need to adapt
- How real companies have made the leap to become customer-obsessed and how this is impacting their business