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01/13/2009 Sony Wants to Listen

Sony recently announced that in order to better listen to customers, they’re building an online community to hear “unvarnished opinions from fans and detractors.” The site is at electronicsblog.sel.sony.com. They will also start a Twitter account, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel and a Flickr page.

It’s great that Sony wants to listen. It reminds me of a discussion I heard back in 2007 by Beth Kim Thomas of Nestle. She set up a number of forums to make her marketing team hear all the feedback, good and bad, about the brand. We marketers are usually bad listeners; we like to think we know everything already.

I set up a similar experiment for a client in 2007 as well. The problem was, they really didn’t want to listen. They wanted people to contribute, but they didn’t really want to act on or do anything about the comments, most of them personal and valid.

As for Sony, I hope they become better listeners. It seems to me, there should be a lot of opinions out there already out there about Sony. I wonder if they’ve set up any ways to listen to those discussions before building their own walled garden.  When Dell set up their “What Does Green Mean to You” campaign, most of the activity came from Facebook, not the microsite.

The best customer feedback site I’ve seen is still Apple’s support site. Even though it’s on Apple.com, it seems that the customers really run that site, gaining points for helping one another, and providing very straight-forward feedback and opinions about all products. Maybe Apple’s simply in another category when it comes to customer engagement, but it seems to be a good model.

I hope Sony is open about what it’s listening to and what it plans to do with the feedback. That would be something special: actively showing how it’s listening and how customers can impact its business.


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