Excellent customer involvement by Xiaomi

On April 6, 2010 Xiaomi Corporation was founded: a mobile internet company focused on the research and development of high-end smartphones. However, the fans (i.e. customers) of the Xiaomi Corporation play a very important role in the company’s development. They are the core value of Xiaomi. Xiaomi interacts with fans in multiple ways.

As they are focused on the Chinese market, they developed an interface that makes it much easier to use their smartphones for Chinese users. Furthermore, they update their software on a weekly basis at the best possible price. However, the part of their strategy I would like to emphasize is the treatment of their customers. Xiaomi acknowledges all feedback with gratitude. The founder and company executives spend time on social media every day to personally interact with the customers (usually over 100 comments on a daily basis). Xiaomi adds functionalities based on the feedback they receive from their customers. Feedback regarding modifications can be about anything: shape and color of the phone, the quality of the camera, but also modifications such as delivery speed and the ease of the ordering process.

On top of the integration of their customers in the developments of their products, Xiaomi classifies fans in grades in terms of participation, number of comments and level of importance of services provided to other fans. These grades grant fans different permissions and incentives. Users with high grades are often asked to try out new products. Some have even been recruited by Xiaomi to work for them full time. The grades in turn motivate customers to participate actively in the Xiaomi community. Fans often help each other out with problems, which has resulted in the establishment of a large community.

Another thing Xiaomi Corporation does to show fans how important they are, is organizing various gatherings for Xiaomi fans. Think of fan festivals and reunions in cities, where fans can meet and share experiences. The highlight every year is the fan festival. As part of the program, Lei Jun (the founder of Xiaomi) reports the latest results and activities of the company, and he introduces new products. Furthermore, those users that have contributed the most throughout the year receive ‘the best feedback gift’. The reunions in cities are usually organized by fans, however, Xiaomi Corporation provides the venue and gifts in support of the reunion. Fans can select their location and the corporation will pay for it (if the idea is approved of course).

Xiaomi offers customers to provide them feedback and helps them customize the products to match their needs. For example, one user mentioned he wanted to record the times at which he answered the phone, so a few weeks later this functionality was provided.

Through the customer involvement, Xiaomi has created a community in which their customers are the key factor to success. I believe that Xiaomi involves their customers in an excellent way. The products are adjusted to their needs, resulting in very satisfied customers, as they receive exactly those products they want. This story is a great example of the two-sided positive effects good customer involvement can lead towards.

Shih, C., Lin, T.M.Y., Luarn, P. Fan-centric social media: The Xiaomi phenomenon in China, Business Horizons, Vol. 57, pp 349-358