Wednesday, May 05, 2010

How I am recruiting customers as trainers for my product for free

I recently recruited a current customer to mentor another customer, who is implementing my product, SAP Enterprise Learning.

Customers trust advise from others who have ran into the same problems
We all read product reviews in Amazon and restaurant reviews in Yelp. Yet, as product managers, we think customers should trust us when implementing or using our products. Customers may like us. But they trust others who have been through the pain. Customer trust other customers from their industry more than they trust the product manager who has, at best, second hand information about the industry.

Customers want to teach
Customer love to share their thoughts and advise others in their industry. Because it is a learning process for both customers.

Customers are honest. 
Unlike product managers, who are bound by a lot of red tap, legality, policy, accounting laws, lawyers with a lot of time in their hand, marketing people who are out of touch with reality, clueless managers with competing priorities, and office politics, customers tell it as it is.

You are not in control any way.
If all this makes you feel that you may lose control of you message about the product, I have news for you. You are not in control. If you think otherwise, you just don't know that yet.

Can the software build a customer relationship for you?
By the way, I already had a good relationship with both the customers. You got to have that. Even a cool iPhone app cannot create a relationship for you. You got to work to create trust and  lasting customer relationship. Although I read somewhere recently that women prefer men with iPhones.

How much did it cost me?
Nothing. I just created a learning activity in SAP Streamwork and invited both customers to participate. They started the conversation the moment the second customer joined. All it took was a polite nudge from my part. You can do this too. Try it out. Be the CEO of your product. Recruit customers to train other customers.

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