At a workshop I did recently, the subject of customer communities came up. One participant—who had been making insightful and well-informed comments all day—stunned the room when he said, “Customer communities won’t work for us. We have a policy that our customers are not to talk with each other.”
He said this matter-of-factly, so I looked for some raise of his eyebrow, or lift at the corner of his mouth, just to let us know he was joking. It became quickly clear that this fellow was serious as a heart attack.
Sometimes, clients tell me that their customers have no interest in getting technical support from each other, and that’s why they don’t need forums. Generally, five minutes on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! provides convincing counterevidence.
Yes, your customers want to talk with each other, and they trust each other (maybe more than they trust you?) and no, you don’t get to tell them they can’t talk to each other.
So: do you want to be part of the conversation, or not?