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Customer feedback key to product innovation at Lenovo

27-September-2012
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Customer feedback key to product innovation at Lenovo

When Lenovo took over the IBM PC business, there were numerous questions raised on whether the company would be able to live up to the IBM legacy and how it would eventually perform in the hotly contested personal computers and laptop category. But as the company celebrates 20 years of ThinkPad, with a growing customer base and the evolution of its communication strategy, brand Lenovo has become an interesting case to observe. In conversation with exchange4media, Amar Babu, Managing Director, Lenovo India talks about how the brand has married consumer insights into its products and how the brand’s social media presence plays a key role in Lenovo’s overall response to feedback strategy.

On the challenge of taking IBM’s legacy of ThinkPad forward...
When Lenovo took over the IBM PC business, there were questions raised on whether Lenovo would be able to live up to IBM’s legacy of ThinkPad. We have proved that we have made it stronger, more durable and our new product, ThinkPad X1 Carbon, is a fantastic example of what goes into a ThinkPad and how one uses the combination of design, reliability and durability. ThinkPad has a very strong following in India which has further strengthened over the years, because every time there has been an innovation at the worldwide level, we have bought it to the country. We have kept pace with change in technology and in a way ThinkPad has grown with the enterprise computerisation in India. Now, we are moving to the SMB (Small and Medium Business) segment with the product. ThinkPad in the enterprise segment is clearly the number one as far as commercial enterprise is concerned, whether it is desktops or laptops.

On customer feedback and response thereof...
We have multiple ways of seeking customer feedback. The list of our clientele includes global companies such as accounting firms, design firms, technology firms who purchase large volumes from us at the worldwide level. We have a strong interface session with them where they share feedback; for example, they would like lighter products which are more mobile or new kinds of products. Then there is simpler, yet important feedback too. For instance, we had once received feedback that the acidity from the sweat on our palms impacts the top layer of our keypads leading to loss of lustre, so we developed a special material with no reaction to sweat. Another feedback was that customers drop laptops and the screen can crack leading to loss of data. We developed air bag technology to protect data. In addition to these, key touch-points and critical feedback, we also have CIO forums across the world selected for true representation. We also look at failure data, usage data and so on.

On Lenovo’s social media presence and top management’s involvement in social...
Social media is crucial for us in connecting with consumers. We find so far, it is very impactful in the consumer and the SMB side of the business. At the moment, social media may be not that impactful on the enterprise side. But given our focus on consumer and SMB, we pay substantial attention to what customers are talking about us and to us, through the social media space, and yes I am personally involved in that. I love reading the letters and feedback.

On Lenovo’s number one PC maker status in India for two straight quarters according to the IDC Asia/Pacific Quarterly PC Tracker CYQ1 and CYQ2 2012...
It is not something we take for granted or are arrogant about. We know we need to continuously work to sustain this position. We will continue to innovate and grow at the same time be consistent, which is the key.

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