This piece was inspired by an article from "The Boston Globe:"

 

What businesses can learn from the Grateful Dead


The Grateful Dead provided us with more than memorable summer nights; they showed the way to business success.  I will focus on two ideas and how they relate to Community Management and Customer Service.

 

1.  Be Transparent

"The Grateful Dead's authenticity endeared them to fans and allowed the band to experiment. They found that mistakes are quickly forgiven if a company is transparent about what it's doing."

 

Trust is everything in business and your business will disappear if your customers do not trust you.  Come forward and admit to your mistake, apologize and fix the problem or policy.  Problems happen, the very companies do not sit back and hope the problem goes away, they take action to fix the issue AND admit they made a mistake.  Do you think GM wishes they acted quicker?

Transparency is not just about customer service, it relates to your financial accounting too.  Enron (and others), lost customer trust and fortunes because of greed and terrible ethics.  Don't keep two sets of books.

Great service and sound ethics are foundations on which you should build your company.

 

2. Give, and you shall Receive

"The Grateful Dead removed barriers to their music by allowing fans to tape concerts for free. That brought in new fans and grew sales for concerts, records, and merchandise. They showed that when content is free, more people hear about a company and eventually do business with it."

 

Customers are demanding access to knowledge in order to self-solve their problems.  Providing an open knowledge base lowers your customer service costs, increases customer satisfaction, and shows your company is a thought leader.  The Consortium for Service Innovation has published a paper about how Mathworks has turned knowledge-share upside down by publishing their entire knowledge base within their Community.

I can hear the question now: "But support contracts are a large part of our revenue, we can't just give away our knowledge."

Give away the knowledge, not the support.  Customers who pay for a service contract are NOT paying for information, they are paying for immediate support and people to solve their problems for them.

Stop funneling your customers into horrible phone queues: listen to them on social media and build them a community where they can interact with you (and other customers) to learn, share knowledge, and solve their problems.

 

Rock on!

 

Cheers,

Toby