How to Use Crowdsourcing to Increase Customer Engagement and Satisfaction

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When Jeff Howe coined the name “crowdsourcing” in 2005, even he would hardly have believed a Google search for the word in 2018 would turn up millions of results. In reality though, “crowdsourcing” has been around in one way or the other longer than when Jeff invented the name 13 years ago.

But from a business (for-profit) perspective though, why is crowdsourcing important? Research has shown that 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they’re treated. And crowdsourcing is a great way to make customers feel they’re treated well. Let’s look at three ways you can do this.

1. Crowdsource product ideas

Before companies develop new products, they often perform market research to determine their target market, competitors, customer preferences, and other elements necessary for new product creation.

But sometimes your relatively small product team can conjure only so much product ideas. Or there just isn’t enough information and enough time for market research either. What do you do?

Just ask your customers.

I want to use LEGO Ideas as an examples of crowdsourcing product ideas, but it’s probably well-known already. Brilliance, a company that sells diamond wedding bands, even have provision for customers to create their preferred type of ring, which when produced, other customers can see and also purchase if they need it.

Lays, a chip manufacturer, ran a ten-month “Do Us a Flavor” crowdsourcing campaign where customers created their own chip flavor and other customers voted for their favorites. $1 million was awarded to the customer who created the winning flavor. This winning flavor resulted in an 8% increase in sales in the three months after its release.

Besides allowing customers to suggest product ideas, ensure there are incentives or prizes to encourage participation. When customers are involved in product creation in this way, there are higher chances of increased customer satisfaction when the product is eventually created.

2. Crowdsource product design

Product design can also be crowdsourced. In this case, you have the product idea already, but you need input on features of the product. Maybe that includes product structure, colors, layout, etc.

You can do this in two ways:

  • Create different variations of the same product and ask consumers to choose their favorite design. Depending on the quantity of products, you can choose to produce the first two, first three or just one based on votes.
  • Create a contest where customers submit their own design of your product while other customers, including participants in the contest vote for their preferred design. Give prizes to winners and runners-up, or however you like it.

In 2014, McDonalds allowed customers to design what type of burgers they’d love to see in store. They created their burgers online, while others voted for what they felt are the best ones. The top five designs were created and sold in stores in the United Kingdom.

Also, once winners were selected, the burgers were released weekly with a picture and bio of the creator.

Beer brand Budweiser had over 25,000 customers taste 12 experimental varieties of beer to help them produce beer that consumers would devour.

Like the examples show, no two crowdsourcing campaigns are entirely similar so factors like your budget, production costs, and even production timeline may influence what you do after your campaign. Still, you’ll increase customer engagement and make them feel well-treated when you re-create their favorite designs.

3. Crowdsource product names

There are entire businesses that are built on crowdsourcing product names. Name Station, Squad Help, and Naming Force allow you to set up contests where users brainstorm to help you choose domain names, business names, or product names. In fact, there are many other sites like them that are beyond the scope of this article.

Crowdsourcing product names often works like crowdsourcing product ideas or designs. That’s because you’ll already have a product idea or a finished product before you can ask customers to give it an appropriate name.

Unlike the former two, it’s highly unlikely you’ll have any two or more customers give the same names to your product, so it’s your job to choose a name that speaks to your heart and/or business. And that can be overwhelming when you have thousands of submissions to go through.

To show what’s possible, when Kraft Down Under crowdsourced names for a version of Vegimite, they had to select a winning name from 48,000 submissions!

Overall, crowdsourcing may be a lot of work sometimes, but it is rewarding work that will increase customer engagement and satisfaction with your business.

1 COMMENT

  1. It’s interesting that you mentioned Kraft Vegemite as an example of crowdsourcing because ultimately, that turned out to be a disaster. The problem with crowdsourcing a name is that it doesn’t involve an experienced naming consultant to help the brand manager define message goals, evaluate name options and select a winner. Without that expertise, a company can blunder into a naming debacle like Vegemite iSnack 2.0—a name provided by the crowd, selected by Kraft and, after the product’s launch, roundly ridiculed by the public. The reception was so poor that Kraft had to rename its product. The lesson here is that the crowd provides quantity but not necessarily quality. A company is better off working with a naming expert when the reputation of its brand is at stake.

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