Duncan Davidson on the Apple Genius Bar:
Imagine, for a moment, you’re in charge of the development of a product. What’s more compelling? A) Somebody on your staff telling you that third party services centers seem to be buying lots of widgets and their reports indicate that there could be a problem with a particular feature of your product. Or, B) The head of your own service organization coming over with graphs and charts about exactly which parts break, why customers say they break, and that the cost for fixing the damage caused by a simple bumbling accident averages $593.
As a brand marketer I will never understand the need to outsource the conversations you could have directly with your customers. Not simply because of the opportunity to improve your products (above), but because it is one of the purest and easiest ways to understand and improve your relationship with them. Ask yourself: what would you do if you could get ahold of your best customers exactly when they wanted to hear from you? What could you learn, and what could you do for them to make them happier with you?