I stumbled over a Chevy ad on the front page of the New York Times today, announcing a dialogue about alternative energy with the headline "We share a planet, why not share a dialogue". While I appreciate the offer to talk openly about their alternative fuel efforts (and realize I have to do some more research about the seriousness of their efforts), I disagree with their choice of words. After navigating to the microsite, I had to realize all they offer is a Q&A section. The answers seem to be pretty open and address the issues, but technically a Q&A doesn't qualify as a dialogue: Users can only submit questions, neither are they able to respond to the answer nor are other visitors able to leave their response to the answer or the initial question - Chevy has the final word!
When I first heard about the My Starbucks Idea campaign, I didn't pay much attention. After checking back and reading more about it, I have to say I'm impressed.
The site asks customers to "shape the future of Starbucks" in four ways: Share, Vote, Discuss, See. Ideas are voted on after they are submitted and the ones with the most votes go into review. The "See" section lists the customer-submitted ideas that were actually adopted.
Looking at the way this eParticipation offering is designed, it seems like they've done their homework. The facilitation team is on the ball, the way ideas move from their initial stage to being implemented straightforward and transparent plus they’ve taken the “let’s talk and maybe it will impact action” concept and made the action a measurable component. It makes the consumer feel like they're actually impacting change.
The site is powered by Salesforce.com, the same San Francisco customer-relations management firm that powers IdeaStorm.com for Dell Inc. The world's No. 2 personal computer maker started IdeaStorm early last year in hopes of repairing its battered customer-service credentials.
Both online communities offer three options for weighing in -- sharing an idea, voting on it and discussing it -- plus a tab with updates on which ideas the company is putting into action. [via seattlepi.com]
It's great to see our society moving towards a participatory culture and large companies embracing it. That still leaves the question: If Starbucks opens up and lets us, the customers, discuss "why extra milk the only difference between Venti and Grande drinks is", to a point where they now actually consider changing this (after 15000+ votes and 120+ comments), when do our cities and communities follow?