Are You Listening to Your Customers?

April 1, 2013

By Ken Beaulieu

As a mother of three children, Dell CMO Karen Quintos has learned that there’s a real difference between hearing and listening, a difference that also applies to the business world. For example, if your company is monitoring conversations on Facebook and Twitter but not acting on the rich insights, you’re not really listening, she says.

Too often, Quintos notes, marketers look for the “silver bullet” — the new and most innovative aspect of their products, services, or brand — but the best marketing organizations validate the richness of a brand through a maniacal focus on listening. This is especially true at marketing powerhouses such as Dell, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Zappos, and Amazon, among others.

“There is no question that listening enables us to continue to deliver great products and services while simultaneously building customer relationships that inspire,” Quintos says. “When I talk to customers, I ask them fundamentally the same questions: Why are you loyal to Dell? What has you coming back to do business with us? Delivering great products and solutions is certainly a big part of it, but it’s also the constant focus on the customer, doing what’s right for the customer, really caring about customer outcomes, and understanding how technology can change our world. It’s about making every decision with the customer at the center. And listening becomes a cornerstone of doing just that.”

In 2006, Dell launched the blog, Direct2Dell, with a focus on customer conversations. A year later, the company introduced the website IdeaStorm, which allows customers to not only evaluate Dell’s products and solutions, but also offer ideas to improve its business. The best ideas are then incorporated into future products, services, and marketing. Dell also monitors the 25,000 conversations about the company each day through its award-winning Social Media Listening and Command Center.

“Listening and acting on customer insights helps us deliver the technology solutions that give our customers ‘the power to do more,’” Quintos points out. “Whether it’s to listen or proactively ask for customer ideas, social media allows Dell to put the customer at the center of all we do. We’ve come a long way. But every day there is a new development in the social media space, and every day I learn something new about the way Dell can use these communication channels to improve our listening, ultimately, to better serve our customers.”


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