I just stumbled across CrowdSound, a slick widget that enables anyone to gather ‘social feedback’ from users and customers. There’s inherent value to creating and maintaining a direct dialogue between you and your customers, so I decided to take a look and see if it’s really a good tool to implement in order to improve customer relationships and product development.
CrowdSound is a social widget that allows anyone to become part of a discussion on your site, without the need to leave it, thus allowing a direct conversation between other users and yourself. In fact, the widget allows you to interact without even signing up for an account, so the threshold is pretty low. You can run CrowdSound widgets on your own website or on a CS-hosted one (example).
This is a test widget I set up in a few seconds:
Furthermore, the widget can be customized to fit your site’s look and feel, all to provide a seamless, integrated experience for sharing suggestions and voting on other users’ submissions. CrowdSound allows for suggestions to be marked as ‘private’, allowing a customer to submit a suggestion that can only be seen by your company, and also allowing you to take offline sensitive suggestions that may otherwise be visible to your competitors.
You can also pre-define categories, such as bugs, feature requests, account-specific issues, etc. The company even offers a full-featured iPhone interface for managing CrowdSound conversations on the go.
Some of the features mentioned above are not available in the free version (a pro version sets you back $10 a month), but the basic functionality offered in the free version seems to be sufficient for a test-drive. A non-embeddable (grrr) screencast can be watched here.
On a sidenote: the backend of the platform seems to extremely ‘inspired’ by the lay-out of WordPress, as you can tell from the screenshot below.