Henk Kleynhans (CEO of Skyrove) and I once met for coffee at Sandton City while he was up from Cape Town to talk about our industry, our respective businesses and life in general. We hit it off straight away – he’s a smart, likable guy. Somewhere during our chat, he has since reminded me, I began preaching about the necessity for modern business to join the online conversations it’s stakeholders, customers and employees are having in order to stay savvy, informed and competitive.
The team at Skyrove recently made some significant changes to the login process on their site. Instead of a typical ‘make a change and hope for the best’ company approach, Henk immediately published a blog post offering Skyrove users the opportunity to provide constructive feedback on their experience of the changes. Not only that, but he also rewarded the first 40 commenters on the post with 100 Skyrove credits each. The resultant feedback, to quote Henk, was worth thousands of Rands in more conventional market research, but landed up costing him only R 320! Not only that, but he involved his customers in the process, thereby building community and bringing enthusiasts closer to the brand. Super idea, super results.
Henk said it best in his recent email to me, “the idea is to empower the customer and making sure they know they are empowered. In this way building a much stronger community”.
Three cool lessons we can all learn from Henk’s story:
- Don’t start a conversation unless you actually believe your customers have value to add. I’m willing to bet that most industries, sectors and types of business have customers that can offer valuable advice and insights on the products and services they so often use. Too often we get so self-obsessed with our own visions, strategies and missions that we forget how integral a role our users actually play…
- Starting a conversation requires direction and motivation. Too many brands have simply started a blog or Facebook group only to shudder at the deluge of negative feedback they receive from customers. Henk offered a reward to his most proactive, constructive customers, and asked a very specific question. Minimise online mess by directing the conversation and rewarding constructive (which is not always positive) feedback.
- Starting a conversation requires involvement and action. It’s no use asking a question, receiving an answer and then doing nothing about it. Henk responded to individual commenters, acknowledging their contribution as soon as possible. Conversations with customers do not always need to be submissive. The customer is king, but is not always right. Customers will respect you if you can correct their error based on your confidence in and knowledge of your product / service. Also, Henk actually implemented the suggested changes as soon as possible, so that customers could see the results of their participation immediately.
Thanks for the story Henk – I hope you inspire more businesses out there to genuinely listen to, engage and even catalyse customer conversations online.