Talk amongst yourselves Let your customers get every possible question answered

Posted by tom klein June 1, 2007

Even though your customers have an unlimited number of questions, if you’re like most companies, you give them very few answers. Have you considered creating a “smart” community to answer every possible question your customers have?

Yahoo! Answers does just this. Think about how you might apply collective intelligence – let your customers ask and answer the questions. Turn them into experts. This is especially compelling where, collectively, your customers really are much smarter than you are – pretty much always the case. What if Williams-Sonoma let me ask its customers how to achieve key lime pie perfection?

The idea works regardless of your market (selling to consumers or to other businesses). There are open source tools to let you turn your FAQ’s – frequently asked questions- into EAQ’s – every asked question. Are you ready to accept the Wisdom of Crowds and let your customers help each other?

There's an open source tool called Askeet that will let you duplicate the functionality of Yahoo! Answers. In almost exactly the same way, someone can pose a question and have it answered by someone else (with authority). Here's an example of what an Askeet based system looks like. Developing the system shouldn't be the hard part of the equation.

The big challenge here is helping your customers understand how the system works and what's in it for them - pretty standard marketing challenges. Consider seeding the system with the questions that you receive, perhaps by email or call center. From there, once your customers understand how it works, they will take over and you can act as editor.

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3 Comments on “Let your customers get every possible question answered”

  1. Also consider linking to existing user forums that exist in the market place; I am thinking of automotive enthusiast forums to which a relationship can be developed from the automobile copanies. Erik posted on
  2. [...] familiar, it’s sort of a customer-focused version of Yahoo! Answers (that we discussed in Talk Amongst Yourselves). If you’re looking for a way to engage with customers outside of traditional challenges, [...] Social networking | I cant get no posted on
  3. [...] we discussed in Talk amongst yourselves, there are a number of web-based tools to help you create a dialog with your customers or readers. [...] Put a forum on your site with AOL’s Yedda | feed growth! posted on

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