In the case of Dave’s company,what they do They make a technology product that is managed by technology people and in a perfect world has results that are interpreted by marketing people (marketing weenies, right Brad?)
If I understand them correctly, Xaffire’s tool has a somewhat frightening ’Big Brother’ aspect to it, but if I were an online retailer I would consider this type of tool a necessity.
Basically, their tool records every interaction with a customer’s Web site, and analyzes those sessions to determine what aspects of the site work optimally and which don’t.
Perhaps, but if I were an existing customer I would love to read a blog written by the CTO or perhaps their chief statistical analyst or product marketing manager about best practices, consistent bugs they’ve come across and solutions, how other customers have tweaked the software, any number of things that might be of interest to an existing user.
As a potential customer I might like to know that:
- a potential vendor manages customer issues quickly and effectively (every software maker has customer issues and as a buyer I expect that)
- the company shares best practices on how to use software that I might consider absolutely mission critical
- the software maker responds to customer input on the development of its product and that this product will continue to meet my needs in the years to come
Is a blog the only way to dialogue with customers and potential customers, no. But it is a relatively straightforward and easy to create a channel for customer feedback.
Granted, not every company is prepared to have potentially negative things said about them in an open forum (that you’re hosting no less.) True, but again every enterprise technology customer expects that there are things that aren’t perfect about your tools.
How well you address your flaws is what customers will want to know about.
Moreover, they are going to say these things about your tools no matter what, with a forum you at least have a chance to hear about, respond to, and defend your position. And if you control the forum you are a) bringing people back to your site and b in a position to control the tone of comments (i.e. manage what irrationally angry people have to say about you.)
While maintaining a blog can be burdensome (as opposed to kicking one off in terms of time required ongoing), but costs should be more than justified by the increased customer interaction. Yes, it does need to be marketed to customers, but that too should be straightforward. On a $30,000 product, a simple email to every customer explaining the blog’s purpose and how it will benefit users *should* not be a terrible challenge. A button on the homepage, perhaps even with a brief excerpt from the most recent entry is helpful and also creates a dynamic element to your home page.
So to quote Brad again, “what gives?”