and instead start talking with them.  When I make presentations I always remind myself (and others) not to talk to the crowd, but instead talk with them.  Engage them in the presentation and you might find yourself participating in a robust discussion instead of another ho-hum presentation.  I know, easier said than done.

The same holds true in interacting with your customers.  The more you talk with them, the more engaged they are,  and the more likely they will be to share your product / service with others.  I recently read a couple of books that prompted this post.  They are “Contagious” by Jonah Berger who teaches at Wharton and “Highly Recommended” by Paul Rand.  A quick side note, the book written by the professor (Berger) is well done and does not come across in a professorial manner.  Reads more like a general strategy book.  On the other hand, the non-professor’s book (Rand) definitely reads like a professorial tome.  Somewhat didactic in nature as well.  But I digress.  In general, both of these books are good and focus on the same end goal, which is how products and services catch on with the masses.  They are also both somewhat critical of Gladwell’s Tipping Point and I must admit more insightful.

I am not going to bore you with passages from each book, but focus on what I think is the most important aspect, which also happens to jibe with my experience.  There are clearly a number of offline and online methods (Berger and Rand do a good job of describing) that a company can use to facilitate customer interaction.  Whether you are soliciting ideas from customers or engaging them in contests of some sort, you may find yourself 2-3 steps ahead of the competition.  Many companies have facebook pages, twitter accounts, etc.  Many companies do a fine job of pushing information to customers via these channels, but how many provide a meaningful mechanism for feedback?  More importantly, how many provide a meaningful mechanism for interaction?  Take a step back from your day-to-day responsibilities and consider what activities you can influence so that your organization can better engage customers.  What things can you do to influence “word of mouth” about the product or service you provide? Advertising has been around for quite some time, but an endorsement from another customer (an engaged customer) is much more powerful than a paid advertisement.

So, Stop Talking to Your Customers…And Instead Start Talking With Them


Rindge Leaphart