Watching Customers is Not Listening to Them
Facebook Places is the latest location-based service to enter the market, and thanks to Facebook’s huge footprint, it’s getting tons of hype. Marketers are probably salivating at the thought of taking advantage of the data they get from Facebook’s huge base as they leave a trail around their neighborhoods.
The data streaming into businesses may be useful. But let’s not mistake this for the kind of listening that will allow you to innovate over the long term.
Deep customer listening starts with a question and becomes a conversation. Location-based services are a one-way conversation started by the customer. The data may tell you who are your most loyal customers, but it won’t tell you WHY they are loyal. Essentially, you’re watching customers, not listening to them.
Moreover, you’re listening to a small, self-selected segment of your customers. Don’t confuse the customer who wants to be heard with the customer who has something to say.
No doubt Facebook Places will help companies track consumer behavior better. All those people who say they shop at local greengrocers will now be busted for buying their zucchini at Walmart.
But companies will need to use their ears as well as their eyes if they hope to understand their customers and create something new.