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Think your customers/citizens are stupid? Guess who their leader is…

Providing great services and products is difficult for businesses, government agencies, everyone. It is easy to blame the customers, or the citizens, for not understanding the complexity of issues ranging from how to install your product to the need for building permits. While, to be honest, there a likely a couple of knowledge-challenged people among those groups, if you have a large number of customers, or potential customers, that do not understand your products/services the real problem is in your mirror looking back at you.

According to the register, MSI, a hardware manufacturing company, MSI sent an e-mail to 97,000 customers informing them to ’Read The F***ing Manual’. The e-mail went so far as to state “The MSI-forum and MSI-support team are fed-up with explaining you what can be found in the manual”…. (http://go2.wordpress.com/?id=725X1342&site=johnfmoore.wordpress.com&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.theregister.co.uk%2F2010%2F03%2F28%2Fmsi_support_forum_email%2F&sref=) Wow! If I was MSI’s competitors I would reach out to the MSI customer base immediately.

Here is my advice to MSI and to any other company or public sector agency that might be thinking their customers, their citizens, are just too stupid to get it.

* If your customers do not understand “it”, whatever “it” is, you are the problem, not your customers.
* If you are servicing a customer or citizen base of any size you need to invest in a social support community (SSC). These communities use the power of those 97,000 voices to co-create value. One of these value-adds is customers providing support to other customers. Empower these power user’s with training and authority to help other customers.
* Most product companies believe user’s do not read the documentation. This mindset leads to poor documentation, often thrown together at the last-minute. Within your SSC take those great PDFs you have created and make them available in a WIKI. Give all customers the rights to co-create your documentation. As they find problems or helpful tips at least some part of those 97,000 customers will work to improve the documentation for you. It is a team effort.
* Make surveys available in your SSC that enable your customers to answer the age-old question, how are we doing? Take the results of the surveys and make them public, in real-time. Most survey tools enable you to show current results after you have taken the survey. Be transparent. Also, once the surveys are complete be equally transparent about what you will do with this feedback and follow through.

What other advice would you have for MSI?


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Daniel Honker

Amen to that, John! I was just talking to some people today about how if enough of your stakeholders/customers/citizens are having a problem with something, it’s probably beyond just their “incompetence”…

John Moore

My money is on the long, painful demise. Kind of like watching SCO continue to fight in court vs. in the marketplace.