Monday, May 09, 2005

Customer Intimacy

Blogging is one part of a larger suite of social software applications that blur the line between producers of products/services and consumers of those products and create customer intimacy. Blogs live right on that blurry line. Some blogs are product fan sites, and let the raves and rants about a product live under one roof. Some corporate blogs, by brave companies who get blogging, let their comments become an ongoing conversation with their customers.

But all that blurring has made the words "customer" and "consumer" pointless and just not precise enough. There should be a word like "co-creator" to describe this person, because the people who embrace your product, want to have it, want to improve it, want to shout about it, want to pay money for, want to show it off to their friends and family, this is no "customer" -- this is a partner, a cheerleader, an evangelist, a disciple of sorts.

But, yikes! That exalted language! He's just a guy. A guy who is loving his mp3 player, or his breakfast cereal, or his sneakers or his baseball cap (and team). A guy who loves his iPod, his Special K Red Berries, his G-Units or is Boston Red Sox cap.

What's the big deal?!?

Well, it IS a big deal. And get ready to yield to these folks, these folks who part with their hard-earned cash, to own your product. And read that word "own" again. Because they do "own" it -- it's not yours anymore -- it's THEIRS, part of their world, their dream, their Saturday afternoon. And you need to get up close and personal to know what your customers are doing with that product of yours. You need to be intimate with them. And blogs are the beginning of "customer intimacy". Just the beginning. And the words will have to do until we find the right ones.