Years ago it took companies weeks, months or even longer to gauge customer feedback and input on a product. Today, with online resources like Kickstarter and others, it’s possible to get this information in a fraction of the time. Do you have a product you think might be a hit, but aren’t sure if it will take off? This primer on crowdsourcing and customer feedback can help.
But First, Some History
Crowdsourcing isn’t new, in fact people have been asking for input (and funds), to launch new products since the beginning of modern commerce. What is new is the idea of using online fundraising platforms, like Kickstarter, to generate instant interest, funds and sales.
Kickstarter was launched in 2009 as a resource for cash-strapped entrepreneurs to get instant input and funding for their ideas. While it notoriously generated more than $55,000 for a man seeking $10 to make potato salad (the money eventually went to charity), even this example shows what a powerful tool it can be.
Planning and Launching
Every successful crowdsourcing campaign starts with an idea. Perhaps you sell hand-made wallets and accessories and are seeking funding to launch your line. Crowdsourcing allows you to share your vision and let the community show its support by ponying up with contributions.
On the flip side, crowdsourcing can also reveal when the market for a product lacks interest. While it can be disheartening to learn that your idea for reversible wallets doesn’t resonate, it’s feedback you can use to improve your idea. So when you go back to the market with wallets with a built-in locator GPS, you have something the public wants.
Getting Additional Feedback
Once you launch your product, there are many checkpoints along the way where you might solicit customer feedback. The key to getting good input is to clearly identify what you want to know. Are you curious to learn whether customers think they’re getting a value for the money they’ve spent on your product? Do you want to know if they’d recommend your product to a friend?
Ask clear, concise questions and you’ll get answers that you can use to continually enhance your product. Keep in mind, too, that ongoing feedback is what continues to keep your product relevant. It’s why the iPhone 7 will be light years better than the first one that came out in 2007. And why your wallet with GPS locator will continue to improve if you listen to your customers.
Online surveys are one of the best ways to get this input. Turnkey resources, like Mailchimp and Constant Contact make gathering data faster and easier than ever before. If you prefer conventional methods, even paper surveys that can be completed at your restaurant or retail location can yield useful data.
Of course, the oldest and most direct way to get feedback is to talk to and listen to your customers. The more you do, the more you’ll learn – and keep your finger on the pulse of customer opinions.
Launching a product and getting feedback used to take what could seem like a lifetime. Thanks to crowdsourcing and other online developments, it now takes a fraction of the time.