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In recent years, Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi has gone from being a marginal player in the Asian market to becoming a global reference in the mid-market mobile phone sector.

What is the secret behind their success? Performance mobile phones that are conservatively priced, but also an extreme care of their clients’ customer journey, with crowdsourcing as the primary vehicle. So much so that the IBM Electronics blog dedicates a post to the ‘Xiaomi case’ as a model experience in client co-creation.

photo-1480694313141-fce5e697ee25Image: More and more brands look to interact with their clients beyond just one screen.

The keys to their success lie in four stages (learning, buying process, use and loyalty) at the center of which we always find the consumer.

1. Learning.
Xiaomi wants to learn more about its product from clients, who are the final users. Since its beginnings, the company chaired by Lei Jun, a true celebrity in China, chose to co-create with its clients through its own community: MIUI forum.

In the community, consumers and anyone interested can state what they would like the next version of their mobile phones to be like. Xiaomi takes the community very seriously: over 200 of its own employees, including Lei Jun himself, scan its contents daily, looking for petitions or possible improvements.

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And when one is identified it is implemented, and a notification is made within a week about the future product. This enables agile development and great engagement among users, who are eager to find out about the state of their petitions, while advances are made toward a future device that satisfies all consumers.

MIUI forum has over 10 million registered users and more than 100,000 daily publications, giving an idea of its value as a marketing channel and as a space to receive client feedback.

2. Buying process.
As in other companies in the sector, Xiaomi has turned its product launches into something like a blockbuster premiere and has deployed marketing resources like pre-booking devices months before they are marketed.

And the brand also places value to launches within its community: the most active users have a preferential right on these bookings.

Xiaomi involves its consumers throughout their customer journey. Interactions with the brand are constant, there is closeness and loyalty.

Xiaomi has also found that selling accessories for their phones is a great market niche. Again, the community has played a key role. The company uses the community to advertise every launch and offers discounts to users. An excuse for them to return to the community regularly, creating brand loyalty.

3. Use
Like all manufacturers in the sector, Xiaomi has a technical support service for its devices, and a customer services in its physical stores. But once more, the community has a relevant role to play here.

Xiaomi has used the community to generate a dynamic of co-creation with clients, based on the question-answer logic and on the brand’s timely support with more technical issues or through user manuals.

This has allowed the brand to significantly reduce its investment in after-sales services, as users themselves offer solutions, in part, to each other’s queries about products and their use.

4. Loyalty
The community has become an extra and distinctive service for the brand. Users gain points for participation and access discounts, as well as other exclusive benefits.

They also earn a reputation in the community and access management privileges inside the community. These reward mechanisms have allowed Xiaomi to create a true legion of followers that work like brand ambassadors.

In short, Xiaomi uses crowdsourcing and online communities as a cornerstone of its business, with an impact on all stages of their customer journey.

The Chinese manufacturer has understood that in a hyper-saturated and highly fragmented market–especially at a local level–brands must look for a differential element that makes them popular.

Xiaomi cannot yet compete with other Asian giants like Samsung in performance or quality, nor can it differentiate itself from similar models and prices offered by many competitors in their range. But is has found an element that distinguishes the brand in its relationship with consumers, who are transformed into their fanbase.

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