Many businesses panic at the thought that their customers might start to collaborate. Often the concern arises because their business models are based around atomizing customers to diffuse their power, lack of transparency or arbitrary differences in value. Some times the concern can be as simple as having to watch customers discover ways to create value with your product or service with little power in that conversation.
Strong businesses embrace collaboration with and between their customers. It is going to happen and it will drive real value. The tools to enable your customers to collaborate are everywhere around your business. Social media makes the buyers of your product more obvious to each other. The many other services of the Internet makes every business well aware of the increased transparency and pressure on arbitrary rules or processes. At its most basic customers write reviews, share information about your business and answer service queries of other customers
At its most powerful, your customers should be the heart of your process of value creation. How can they share their insights with you? How can they guide your roadmaps, customer experiences and innovation? How can they help each other to maximize the value from use of your products and services? How can they become advocates for a business that delivers greater value by engaging their views?
Collaboration is already happening in your customer base. Start leveraging that value. If you are not involved, you are just not a part of the conversation.