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Andy’s Answers: How 3M is integrating the voice of the customer into everything it does

3M doesn’t look at social media as a new thing. For 100 years, the company has been working with customers to collaborate and create products. Social only offers the company more tools with which to do it.

But that doesn’t mean 3M isn’t aggressively exploring ways to use these tools to integrate the customer voice even more into the business. At SocialMedia.org’s BlogWell conference, 3M’s Greg Gerik explained how the company is doing it and some of the fantastic results it is seeing.

A few of his key take-aways:

  • Online customer panels are accurate. Gerik and his team have found that their “virtual” customer panels — where customers share feedback on product features and design — accurately indicate product success or failure. Feedback trends offered by these panels match larger, broader, real-world customer opinions. It doesn’t mean 3M has eliminated other customer-feedback-gathering techniques; it only means the company has another reliable tool to use.
  • Use the voice of the customer — literally. Gerik and his team listen to the way customers describe 3M’s products — which, as with most companies, tends to be different from how the marketing and public relations teams describe them. From their listening, Gerik and his team are able pull “customer keywords” and collaborate with the marketing folks to insert them into messaging. The result? A double-digit lift in sales without changing anything else.
  • Involve customers early. By getting customers involved early in a product life cycle, the team is able to fail much faster — which is a good thing, Gerik said. Through this process, 3M is able to save money it otherwise would be spending on a product customers don’t want or need.

Watch Gerik’s case study to hear a bunch of other great tips. See the slides.

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