Engaging customers involves developing a conversation that requires familiarity with their experience. Customer research is the typical resource used by experience design in developing that familiarity. Trendwatchers.com offers an overview of one potentially useful way to develop familiarity with customers, Virtual Anthropology. The term points to the ability of customer researchers to now tap into the stories about personal experience that increasing numbers of people are providing online. Read the newsletter to see the range of resources available online to develop an understanding of your potential customers. But, keep in mind that the people offering their stories and experiences for your edification are not doing it for you.
A word of warning: VIRTUAL ANTHROPOLOGY in a business setting is about finding out what consumers (may) need, what may delight them, what you could or should do next to better serve them. It’s about inspiration and curiosity. It’s NOT about spying on consumers, or worse, trying to sell directly to individuals whose postings, musings, pics, vids etc you’ve come across.
Sure, all of this content is public, and people do offer a snapshot of their lives because they want to share, or even want to be seen by many, but they’re obviously NOT putting all of this stuff online just for you, the corporate virtual anthropologist. Don’t be mistaken: the ongoing power shift towards consumers means that if you sin, your punishment can be unpleasant and instant.