The Value of Real Customer Involvement

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This fine article concludes with the need to create some tools to get in touch with customers in a more efficient way. I’m pretty sure the companies that will be successful in the future will coproduce their products or services with their clients. At first I thought PlanetFeedback was poised to be a place where companies and customers would meet and exchange. Apparently I was wrong since the feedback I sent them has been left unanswered for a month. Here’s the nice letter that they helped me write:

“September 13, 2000
Pete Blackshaw , CEO
1128 Main Street
Cincinnati, OH 45210
Olivier Travers
RE: PlanetFeedback incident number 205646
Mr. Blackshaw,

I am writing with a suggestion concerning PlanetFeedback.

Specifically, I would like to suggest that you allow people to discuss suggestions they would like to make to a company, such as new features they’d like in a specific piece of software.

Venting against lousy service is useful. But what I’d really like is us consumers being able to collaborate between us and with vendors, so that we have a more active role in defining their future products. That would beat any market study.

Thank you for taking the time to read this.

I hope this is helpful to you.

Olivier Travers”

Apparently he’s not interested. It’s sad because I don’t really care about complaining to lousy companies. I’ll stop buying from them and tell as many people as possible to avoid them. On the other hand, when I’m able to establish a dialog with a vendor that actually listens to my suggestions, I then feel like a stakeholder.

01/2015 update: PlanetFeedback is a zombie site stuck in the design of that era. In past years other providers have moved in to fill in the gap I was describing above, and many companies have become savvy at tapping customer feedback and even funding in a much more cooperative fashion.

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