Listen Up – Your Customers are Talking!

Anyone with responsibility for making a company successful—from the CEO to the front desk receptionist—already knows who really decides an organization’s fate: the customers. That’s why most of us pay attention and actively solicit customer input on our current work and future product developments.

As a smaller company, Intertech regularly engages with our customers in informal ways. Why? We all know it’s more economical and productive to extend existing customer relationships than to build new ones from scratch (we also genuinely like our customers!).

But what about medium-to-large companies where regular informal customer contact is difficult to encourage? It’s not uncommon in larger companies for customer relationships to be completely controlled by a single sales rep. That’s not a healthy situation for your company, especially if your sales rep decides to work elsewhere – taking all of those precious customer relationships with him or her.

A couple of smart and connection-minded local entrepreneurs, Eric Lopez and Loring Kaveney, decided to do something about this. They developed a secure community platform called WorkOutLoud to facilitate ongoing conversations between companies and their customers. This cool new platform also provides the tools to drive collaborative activities through online registration, surveys, email notifications, blogs, files storage, forums, analytics and the like. It’s especially helpful for developing case studies, and facilitating product enhancement requests that drives customer engagements before, during and after events such as webinars, conferences, blog posts and announcements.

Loring Kaveney, who also serves as the Minneapolis Director of StartUp Grind (a national networking group for tech entrepreneurs), explained it to me this way:

“There is a natural increase in collaboration when a community platform is provided to share information from thought leaders in their industry, especially when it supports rich content to solve challenges. Customer communities will lower churn while focusing on the satisfaction of the customer’s thoughts around services and products provided by your company.”

In other words, every company needs a customer community to clearly understand what drives their customers and to encourage collaboration. Your bottom line depends on it. I’m impressed with WorkOutLoud and suggest you check it out at www.workoutloud.com.

EO Rally Minnesota

EO-Rally

If you’re an early-stage entrepreneur, check out EO Rally.

The event brings together established entrepreneurs and early-stage entrepreneurs for a no-holds-barred speed-dating style of mentoring. It has proven to be a dramatic success for both the mentors and mentees that have participated each of the past years. 

Bring your questions, challenges, ideas and a healthy supply of business cards.  Leave with answers and contacts.

Voice App Helps Hungry Customers – and keeps a major fast-food chain on top

PizzaRemember my post a few weeks back about the explosion of mobile apps? I recently read that Domino’s pizza has pushed the envelope a bit further by becoming the first major fast-food chain to offer a phone app that lets you order by voice. (If the last time you experienced Domino’s was in college, you might be surprised to learn that the pizza has improved dramatically and the company now operates nearly 11,000 stores in 70 markets around the world.)

Of course, most of us are used to ordering pizza by voice. It’s usually a frustrating experience in which you are repeatedly put on hold as a harried manager juggles dealing with onsite customers who are eager to order or pay their checks. But with Domino’s new app, the harried pizza guy is replaced by “Dom,” a computer enhanced male voice (he currently only responds to English).

Looks like Domino’s has figured out how to stay number one with the coveted Millennials demographic? It shouldn’t be a surprise since Domino’s current mobile app is its fastest-growing ordering vehicle, representing 18 percent in sales (totaling $459 million in 2013).

Domino’s CEO Patrick Doyle believes that the day will come when typing on keyboards with our thumbs on mobile devices will be over.  “We want to be the ones who continue to advance the technology experience,” Doyle commented in a recent USA Today story.

Domino’s is smart to be staying on the leading edge of technology as it seeks to connect in ways most convenient for customers. Has your company considered how apps – computer, mobile or voice – might help to propel your business forward?