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Ask your customers to solve your toughest problems

Most companies instinctively hide their problems.  That’s the wrong answer. 

Open up and ask your customers for help. They already know what’s wrong (often more than you do), and they probably know how to fix it (often better than you).

Example:  Customer support is a challenge for a tech company like Dell with 30 million customers, each with a different setup and knowledge level. So Dell went to their customers and asked them how to solve it.  They put their best ideas on the Ideastorm web site for open, public, customer brainstorming.

Dell blogged about three great ideas that they found:

I’m a big fan of the dedicated teams model.  I’ve been a customer of for more than 10 years, and the Silver Team knows exactly what I need.  The people come and go, but the team still knows me and my many quirks.

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  1. Zane Safrit April 24, 2008 at 9:02 am #

    You’re so right: Customers know. Customers know. Customers know. Ask ’em.

  2. Gino Cosme April 24, 2008 at 2:48 pm #

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Often companies are too scared to open up to their customers however by doing so they’re not only positioning themselves as relationship-focused, but determined to solve complex problems in an innovative, collaborative manner. This in turn has some many positive benefits from a business operations and communications perspective.

  3. mike ashworth April 26, 2008 at 5:31 pm #

    Hi Andy, Fantastic stuff.
    I am a firm believer that “data trumps instinct” when it comes to finding out how to improve your products / brand.
    What Dell have done will be seen by many other Companies as foolish, actively soliciting commetns that may not be positive, however what these other Companies don’t get is that when a Customer is engaged in this way it creates a more meaningful relationship with the Brand / Product. And that is worth far more than advertising can ever buy!
    Mike Ashworth
    Business Development
    Brighton and Hove, Sussex, UK

  4. Jon Escamilla April 28, 2008 at 12:45 pm #

    Andy, this is a very good article and very quickly describes the vision that all of us here at have.
    We are in the final stages of testing on our new tool that in essence is a platform that puts businesses finger on the pulse of their consumers. We made it extremely affordable so that small businesses will have the same oppertunity that big companies have with their data collection teams and big databases of consumer e-mails.
    So with that said, and taking your advice, I want to ask all you business owners out there (who are out consumers) what do you want to see in a business tool. What kind of things do you think will make maintaining relationships with loyal customers, and getting new customers easier? We are here for you, and want to do everything in out power to help you.
    Jon Escamilla
    R&D @

  5. Alliance Science May 13, 2008 at 10:30 pm #

    Four More Different Words

    Create Powerful Client Networks Sage Seth Godin says you or your company have the opportunity to create value by connecting their clients to each other. This idea is the most powerful underpinning of Word of Mouth (WOM) marketing. In fact,

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