The digital age has given consumers the ability to discuss products and services in ways that they could never have before. Products and services are now assessed and dissected by users online, with there being no shortage of websites or applications dedicated to opinions and reviews.

 

From a corporate perspective, it can be easy to dismiss these conversations and ignore them, but it is vital that companies join the discussion. Why? It presents a unique opportunity to gain invaluable information and improve your brand positioning.

 

Here are 5 reasons why you need to put yourself in the conversation:

 

1. Build a better relationship

 

Customer service and experience rely on the relationship that you are able to develop with your customers. Social media and apps provide companies with the opportunity to continue the conversation and engage their users and customers. Respond to their questions, ask for their opinion, and show them that you are willing to listen to them.

2. Learn from what they need and get new ideas

 

Building a better relationship and engaging with your customers will allow you to have a better sense of what they need and expect. This can allow you to better plan your next innovation cycle, gather data without costly market research and bring your customers into the planning of your future products and services.

 

The ability to have a better idea of what your customers want is the reason why companies like Starbucks and General Mills have launched open innovation platforms that bring their customers into their innovation planning.

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3. Gain new customers

 

Joining the discussion online is a great way to bring added attention to your products and services. Aside from the opportunity for promotion, your interaction with users presents an opportunity to change your brand image and even make your accounts go viral. Now, not all attention is good, but with a bit of creativity you can add traction to your marketing campaigns and attract new customers and attention.

4. Avoid a crisis

 

Finding out what your customers feel about your products and services is a great way to get ahead of a crisis. Rather than waiting for the proverbial mess to hit the fan, starting a positive dialogue with your customers will let you know when trouble is brewing.

 

Don’t wait to hear about a problem until it is too late. Engage online and you’ll know about problems long before they reach the crisis stage.

5. Staying ahead of your competition

 

There’s a good chance you have some competition with similar products to you. Finding ways to differentiate your products from those of your competition is always a priority, and better customer engagement, customer experience, and brand image are a great way to do just that.

 

You shouldn’t view social media and interacting with your customers online as simply a marketing ploy. Finding out what your customers need, think, and expect can influence every aspect of your business. By choosing to not join the conversation you risk missing out on knowledge and data that could improve your business and make sure the next business decision you make is the right one.