Learning to Listen Is An Important First Step, But Learning to Act On the Info Provided Is The Critical Second Step

Pete Blackshaw, author of Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000′ is loving the cover article in the October issue of the Harvard Business Review. The article by Intuit’s founder, Scott Cook, argues for well conceived and managed customer contribution channels.

Cook’s article is important because he’s taking our current debate over social media to a more meaningful and substantial level. Indeed, there’s yet another layer of operational and ROI value in this Web 2.0 world than meets the typical marketing eye.
And it’s timely. Social-media exuberance is at an all-time high, and I worry we may be chasing the wrong prize. Events and campaigns and buzz tricks with unrealistic payout hurdles dominate the social-media landscape, often distracting us from bigger, more sustaining opportunities like the ones Cook outlines.

In HBR, Cook says:

The challenge for executives is twofold: First, you must learn how to spot opportunities for creating value from user contributions. Second—and here’s the difficult part—in acting on these opportunities, you must overcome natural organizational resistance to the idea of relinquishing significant control to people outside the company.

Cook points to several examples. One that caught my eye is the 20,000-person extranet that Best Buy runs for its employees.

Best Buy has discovered that unfiltered information from colleagues can be more effective than memos from HR. For example, Blue Shirt Nation ran a contest in which employees submitted videos they had conceived and produced, with no company oversight, to spur employee adoption of 401(k) plans. The result of the buzz generated by the contest? A 30% increase in plan enrollment.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.