Customer Service as Community

Great post at “The M Word:” 

Andy Sernovitz on Damn! I Wish I’d Thought of That! posted a neat list of ideas he compiled from the panel “Customer service as community, community as customer service” at the Customer Service is the New Marketing Conference. Sounds like it was an all star panel: Gina Bianchini, Ning; Matt Mullenweg, WordPress ; Tara Huntl, Citizen Agency ; Patti Roll, Timbuk2; Brian Oberkirch, Small Good Thing.

It has some good stuff for libraries to consider when we creating our campaigns.

1. When you open up to customer participation, your brand belongs to your customers, not you.
2. Use your product every day. It aligns your interests with your customers’. It lets you fix problems as they happen. It lets you see things as a user, which is always more helpful than seeing it as a marketer.
3. Turn the bullhorn around. Stop talking. Give the community a chance to speak.
4. There is no such thing as a “community strategy”. The community will do what it wants. Go with it.
5. Join conversations early. Negative gets worse if you don’t respond. Positive grows when you do.
6. Why pay for product photos? Encourage your community to share their product photos. They may even blog about the fact that you chose their photos.
7. Sounding “professional” does not require you to sound like an ass. You don’t need formal language or big words. Talk like a human being. Talk to people online like you talk to your friends.
8. The great thing about communities is that you can hear from everyone. The bad thing about communities is that you can hear from everyone.
9. It’s ok to moderate and set rules of civil discourse. You can politely refuse to engage with ranters who don’t want to have a civil conversation.
10. Your community will support you if you enable them. When a critic gets vocal, let your fans reply instead of you.
11. Listen to experts but design for novices.

Of course, I really like #7. Many of these also speak to the self-correcting nature of some of the communities that have sprung up around libraries and other institutions.