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Customer listening programs: Lessons from the music industry

I love music. If I cannot hear the music I love live, then my preferred format is vinyl. So when I saw a recent article in Quirk’s, “Friends or foes? The Internet vs. the music industry,” it immediately caught my attention.

In the past ten years, the music industry has faced a 40% decline in sales, and employment in the industry has decreased by one-third.  The Internet and the prevalence of new technologies have often been cited as primary culprits in these declines. How could the industry have failed to see this coming? The aforementioned article relates how Sony BMG significantly updated their customer feedback program to gain better insights into their customer base.

This article contains numerous important points for making sure your customer feedback program remains relevant and actionable:

·         Know the questions you must answer to drive your business forward.

o   If you are not clear on what questions your research program needs to answer, you could be missing some very important insights.

·         Know your customer base– you will have better response rates and more actionable data.

o   How do you obtain sample for your program?

o   Does your sampling method exclude any group of customers?

o   Is this excluded group important to understanding your questions?

·         Know your competition– if you do not know how you perform relative to the competition, you are missing a piece of the puzzle to understanding your customers.

o   Your competition today may be very different than your competition a year ago.

·         Keep your program fresh.

o   Re-visit your objectives on a regular basis.

o   Know what is going on in the industry and peripheral industries.

o   Review the program with fellow associates who are not immediately connected to it. A fresh set of eyes can be very informative.

You might think these words are odd coming from someone who still listens to vinyl, but- do not be afraid of change.  Changing-up your customer listening program can be the key to its success.

Amy Heleine

Director, Marketing Sciences


Goon, E., "Friends or Foes? The Internet vs. the music industry," Quirk’s, February, 2010, pgs. 22-26.

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