CRM - Tips and TricksFor many companies, interactivity is still an issue. We seem to be locked in a 20th century management world where customers should spend and not be heard. However, this denies the clear indications that many consumers now spend their time online before deciding where to spend their money. The decisions they make are not related to carefully crafted marketing messages, but to opinions from friends, family and even strangers.

For many companies, a website-based feedback form, a Facebook fan page or group, perhaps a Twitter account (often on broadcast only mode), or the age old glory of the automatic switchboard (press 1 to listen to…etc)  are the limits of permitting customer interaction.

However, the Internet gives us a multitude of tools that allow consumers to not only share their opinions with the business but also with other customers. When used properly, this can allow you to ’employ’ your own evangelists, to build consumer loyalty and your brand, as well as engaging with new social media marketing channels that previously were not available.

One of these is ipadio.com. Ipadio allows your customers to make a cheap (or even free) phone call, leave a message and then these messages can be left on your website as both audio files and text transcriptions. Better still, you can use it to run a live online radio show, permitting your customers or critics to phone in and be heard worldwide.

It is hard to stop thinking of new uses for this service and I hope ipadio enjoys a long and healthy lifespan as more companies realise the value of real-life, voiced testimonials, (and critiques) rather than fake, overpaid actors doing their dirty work on the TV. (Consumers really are not _that_ dim!)

Instead of undermining brand value with consumers watching ads asking constantly not just “Were they paid to say that?” but “HOW MUCH were they paid to say that?”, companies could be making the most of real consumers, offering real opinions, in their own voices, as per Points of View.

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology