After the 2000 election, a story started circulating that some Democrats in New York City were astounded that George Bush had beat Al Gore. “I don’t know anyone who voted for George Bush,” they said. Yet millions did, especially in the heartland. These Democrats thought that, since they didn’t know any Bush supporters, Gore would win.
“RTFM” No Longer Works For Everyone
Several times lately I’ve noticed people and organizations that are “tech-oriented” engaging in the same misconception ofthinking that everyone is like them.
For example, online product forums were much more effective when the great majority of people using them were tech-savy individuals who all had about the same level of literacy. But now as many of the late majority and even laggards begin using technology, they are finding forums to be too confusing. I ran into this in trying to move my iTunes from my hard drive to an external drive. I spent hours wading through forums, many of them written by people who were much more computer literate than me. My experience harmed my loyalty to Apple, in fact, I actually gave up on iTunes for about four or five months.
I saw this demonstrated in a small way when I noticed a tweet on Twitter advocating the banning of the White Pages phone book because many of those books were unused. There seemed to be the assumption that, just because people who are more computer literate don’t use the Yellow or White Pages then no one did. However there are plenty of demographic segments who are not computer literate, either because of age, access, or economic factors. Yes, you can point to the fact that 67% of North Americans have an Internet address but many of them prefer using the White Pages to Googling a phone number. (You have to admit that the White Pages do boot up faster than computers.)
Your Customers Are Not All Like You
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all of your customers are like you, or all fall into the same segment, unless you work in a profession where you only deal with a specific kind of customer (such as contractors who only bid on government work). It’s an especially easy mistake to make in the online world, the Twitterverse, the Blogosphere, etc, where you find yourself conversing with people who’ve reached a certain level of tech literacy.
For most of us, our customers are a diverse lot. If you chose a particular customer support strategy years ago, is it still effective today? What if your customer base now includes those who are not knowledgeable enough to use your forums? Your inability to segment your customers properly may be negatively impacting their loyalty to you.
You don’t have to know how to use a forum to follow me on Twitter. I’m txglennross