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Michael Edwards and his team of global digital experts spend a lot of time determining what Amway distributors need to support their growing ventures.

Like teams all across the company, helping distributors – Amway calls them Amway Business Owners – succeed is their total focus. But something was missing.

“We had a bunch of corporate people sitting around a table debating what’s right for our business owners,” said Edwards, Amway vice president of channel and service strategy. “But none of us are Amway Business Owners.

“What we really needed was to listen to them,” Edwards said. “The average Amway Business Owners were not being heard.”

They are now.

Welcome to The Amway Voice, an advanced new online tool that uses social collaboration—“crowdsourcing”—to capture Amway distributors’ ideas and opinions, so there’s no question about what they need. And now, Amway Business Owners and their ideas are helping drive great new projects at Amway.

Amway Business Owners can sign in to The Voice through their email, take a look at the questions posed there and comment on them, or post their own ideas and suggestions.

They can also see others’ ideas. And — here’s the key feature  — they can vote on those ideas, and the program automatically ranks them according to total votes.

And now, Amway Business Owners and their thoughts are helping drive great new ideas at Amway.

The Voice launched in August 2014 with selected Amway distributors invited to try it out. Since then, teams have posed five questions – or business challenges, as they’re called – for distributors to collaborate on.

It was a large success in the 25 markets where it debuted, with more than 25,000 people enrolled in multiple languages. As The Voice continues to deploy across more Amway markets during 2015, more and more Amway Business Owners will be able to participate.

“The best innovation is common-sense innovation. We’re solving a common-sense problem.”

– Michael Edwards, Amway VP of channel and service strategy

At the heart of it, Edwards said, is common sense.

“The best innovation is common-sense innovation,” he said. “Look at the taxi business. It was a pain to get a taxi, right? Then the car service apps came along. What they provided was the common-sense solution to fix the pain points involved with getting a ride somewhere.

“We’re solving a common-sense problem.”

Direct selling in the digital age gives customers the best of all worlds – the personal touch of a trusted advisor, top products built on science, and technological support for ordering, business management tools, education and more.

Corporate teams are focused on supporting distributors with the products, tools, structures and other support to help them build successful businesses, but it can be difficult to tell from inside the company which things are most useful to the people they’re designed to help.

A recent challenge the digital team posed on The Voice is a great example, Edwards said.

“We wanted to give our business owners a design center, with content they could use plus tools they needed to create brochures or a presentation. Some of the people on my team thought it was really important. Others didn’t think so.

“When we posed that question on The Voice, Amway Business Owners said, ‘You know what? I have lots of design tools on the web I can use for free. I don’t need anything new to learn. But I really want content to use with the tools I already have.”

With that settled, the content teams could get to work while Edwards’ team moved on.

Other challenges posed on The Voice have centered around what kinds of tools might help distributors to better identify and recommend products based on customers’ needs, and on what features are most important as Amway develops the next generation of the Atmosphere™ air treatment system.

The full post is available on Amway’s Global News site. Read it here.

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