Customers Control Information: “There are no secrets anymore, just information the audience doesn’t yet have.”

Shel Holtz discusses the infamous example of a customer calling AOL support line and being hassled if not dangled in order to keep him as a customer –poor customer service.

This bad experience was further mangled as it spread on the blogosphere, and even on digg. The recording of the actual event was heard –I was even frustrated when listening.

Companies can no longer afford to treat customers poorly, the examples of AOL, Dell, and others are suffering at the hands of customers. Customers are clearly in charge. Shel Holtz observes:

“There are no secrets anymore, just information the audience doesn’t yet have.”

As a Community Manager, I must embrace this law –by being a customer resource, and advocate, and even address areas to improve. Companies must immediately admit when they are wrong and correct it. Companies also have to admit when their competitors are better –the customers already know it anyways.The Clutrain Manifesto states:

“Networked markets are beginning to self-organize faster than the companies that have traditionally served them. Thanks to the web, markets are becoming better informed, smarter, and more demanding of qualities missing from most business organizations.”

“12: There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.”

It’s just a matter of time before the information is spread to the customer. Companies that hide, deceive or trick customers will suffer the wrath of a riot.