The last few years the Internet has changed from a monologue into a dialogue. People have started blogging, discussing, responding, commenting, etc. This resulted in a digital version of ‘Power to the consumer’, where we decide what to do and buy upon the opinion of other consumers. But where were the companies? Until now they stood at the sideline, not sure what to do. In 2009 this will change, it’s time for Feedback 3.0.
That’s what Trendwachting.com is telling us in their latest trend report. They believe that in 2009 companies will finally join in the conversation. When customers start writing about their products, they will listen and respond. But even better, the companies themselves will start up conversations… asking for the thoughts of their customers. They will finally understand that being open and showing interest doesn’t cost money, but earns you money.
Although I’m hoping that Feedback 3.0 will happen in 2009, it’s still much to late. Ten years ago Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger already preached the need for companies to start listening and conversate in The Cluetrain Manifesto (read the book online for free). They stated:
Markets are conversations
Talk is cheap
Silence is fatal
But let’s not stay negative. Listening too late is still beter then never. As long as they are really willing to listen and learn. Not when they see it as a good PR method.
Here is a good breakdown of the different fases of Feedback, according to Trendwatching.com:
- FEEDBACK 1.0 (one of those early web phenomena) saw outraged individuals posting scathing reviews, feedback and complaints, often to the delight of other netizens. Brands remained unaware or chose not to listen, dismissing these outbursts the way they’d dismissed any kind of customer dissatisfaction for decades.
- FEEDBACK 2.0 (which we’re in right now) is about these rants—and some raves—having gone ‘mass’(no, make that MASS!). The long-predicted conversation is finally taking place, albeit amongst consumers and not, as intended, between corporations and consumers. Companies have started to take note, but to a large degree still choose to listen, not talk back, trying to ‘learn’ from the for-all-to-see review revolution. Which is surprising, to say the least, since a quick and honest reply or solution can defuse even the most damaging complaint.
- FEEDBACK 3.0 (which is building as we speak) will be all about companies joining the conversation, if only to get their side of the story in front of the mass audience that now scans reviews. Expect smart companies to be increasingly able (and to increasingly demand) to post their apologies and solutions, preferably directly alongside reviews from unhappy customers. Expect the same for candid rebuttals by companies who feel (and can prove) that a particular review is unfair or inaccurate, and want to share their side of the story.
Photo by Orange Beard