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Andy’s Answers: How Verizon is using a customer community to make better products

2 min read

Brands & Campaigns

When you make it easy for fans and customers to share ideas, you immediately increase sources of innovation.

Brands such as Starbucks and Dell have shown the power of a community of fans sharing ideas, and Verizon is pioneering it in the communications industry.

At our BlogWell conference in San Francisco, Verizon’s Laurie Shook walked us through how the company created Idea Exchange and offered an in-depth look at how this community helped shape the TV channel guide’s user interface.

Her big ideas:

  • Give ideas time to develop. When customers submit ideas and feedback, Verizon gives them time to grow or die. The company doesn’t immediately respond — that could artificially affect community opinions — and instead waits to see whether ideas take off.
  • Always use a personalized response. Verizon uses subject-matter experts to respond, not the public relations department. When the director of product management responds to feedback, for example, he’s doing it by sharing his inside perspective of how products are developed and the reason certain decisions were made.
  • Don’t assume this community represents your customers as a whole. Shook cautioned that it’s important to understand that while your forum participants are a special group of customers, they don’t necessarily represent the opinions of most customers. These users tend to be early adopters, so it’s still important to properly test their ideas against your mainstream users before implementing any sweeping changes.

Watch Shook’s presentation. Slides are available.

If you loved this, check out’s BlogWell conference Sept. 12 in New York.