Shooting ratio
1984 revisited: 'the future, eventually, will find you out'

Customer consciousness

After Guy Jackson, Electronic Publishing Manager at Macmillan Dictionaries, left a comment on my about the OED/KB917422 issue, I was thinking how we've come to accept that a blog posting about a product, made in some corner of the net, can be easily found by a conscientious company — or rival — and commented on … and how in this way we have a new customer/business relationship.

This was flagged up months ago by Robert Scoble when he spoke at Reboot 7 (I wrote up something about this and there's a bit more ) and, of course, there's Robert's and Shel Israel's book, Naked Conversations — sub-title, 'How Blogs are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers'.

Then, earlier today, I read Alex Barnett on 'support tagging'. Read his whole for the background to this idea. This struck me:

Naturally, there will be those who scoff and respond to the support tagging idea along the lines of "Why? Customers should come to our support site, and open a ticket there". And that's how it's done today - make your customers come to you.

But why not reverse this completely? In one sense, this already happens today: customer conscious companies are trawling the RSS search engines and blogs looking for customer feedback / gripes / issues and post comments on those blogs (or post a blog and pingback). This is how these companies win the hearts, minds and loyalty of their customer. It's amazing customer service - a true differentiator. 

By providing a support tag, it could allow for further structuring around this 'listening to the blogs customer support' approach.

I'd given my post a number of specific Technorati tags, including KB924867 (the hotfix MS has now issued). I noticed a Technorati search was run for yesterday morning — and there's only the one post tagged with KB924867. I don't know if this was how Guy found my post, but one reason I tagged it like this is because I know the KB917422 issue will have affected a lot of users out there — and this tag might be a way to spread the word that a hotfix has arrived. 

Whatever the route, Macmillan has got itself into my consciousness because Guy bothered to find and then comment on my post. And because he did that, I discovered that any student having a copy of the Macmillan English Dictionary has free access to the Macmillan English Dictionary Online. When a student next asks my advice about buying a dictionary, I'm likely to pass this news on to him, too. 

I really like Alex's idea of extending this much further: a company issuing a support tag for a product would get my attention if they picked up on my blog post (tagged with the support tag), commented there and acted to help. The come-to-me web, indeed.