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Business owners and customer service strategists often fall back on classification systems to better understand consumer behavior. It makes sense to try to find some commonality within a given market segment, but customers interact with each other so differently these days that the old rules of engagement simply don’t apply.

Altimeter Group’s Brian Solis says characteristics we’ve typically used to define generations X, Y, and Z are too narrow to be applied to today’s customers. Instead, he heads back to the beginning of the alphabet to designate the current flock of consumers “Generation C” — as in “connected.”

“To Gen C, experience is everything. What they feel about your products and services now and over time is shared through these connected networks. They know that other Gen C’ers rely on their shared experiences to find resolution. If you’re not proactively designing the experience they have or defining the journey that they will embark on, you cannot influence the experience that’s shared about your brand.”

Solis suggests you find out how users connect and communicate with each other, then be prepared to meet them everywhere they are. That means stepping out from behind the relative safety of your website and joining conversations on social media, forums, etc.

The goal isn’t to outshout competitors or stick your sales message in the face of every potential customer on the planet. The real purpose is actually twofold:

1. To remind users that you’re an authoritative voice in your industry. When you’re quick to respond to user questions or concerns across multiple channels, you’ll gain a reputation as company that gets involved and stays close it its customers. It’s a great way to build rapport and gain trust, especially if you’re in a very crowded industry.

2. To make sure information shared about your product is correct. The last thing you want is for customers to perceive your product as unreliable or difficult to troubleshoot. Unfortunately, it’s all to easy for well-meaning users to share misinformation while trying to help each other noodle around a problem. Get out there and make sure users are giving each other the right answers and don’t hesitate to gently redirect when they’re not.

“We’re living at a time when attention is the new currency. Those who insert themselves into as many channels as possible look set to capture the most value,” says Mashable’s Pete Cashmore. The expectations of Generation C really up the ante when it comes to delighting users with exceptional customer service. But be glad user are hyper-connected with each other these days. It makes conversations easier to find and a great customer experience easier to provide.

Image: Eugen Anghel

Twitter discussion about #techcomm

The MindTouch Leaders of #techcomm and #contentStrategy list is live! You can learn more about:

Now, you can view the entire list of the top 400 leaders. This list is also available in a single Twitter list here: twitter.com/MindTouch/techcomm-2011-influencers. Now, onto the leaders…
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I think this is the first time I’ve ever written or verbalized “back by popular demand” without even a hint of sarcasm. Yes, we’re bringing back our list of #techcomm influencers because many, many of you have asked us and thousands of you have Googled your way to MindTouch.com looking for the updated list.

In 2010, MindTouch produced a list of the most influential techcomm bloggers. Our team spent literally weeks pouring over a variety of sources including, but not limited to, Klout, Google Pagerank, Technorati Authority and Twitter. We were compiling the list for our own benefit, but we thought it would be a good idea to share with the entire community and we did so.

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Today MindTouch announced new product capabilities for enhancing CMS and CCMS vendors like Astoria, DocZone, SDL LiveContent, Trisoft and IXIAsoft.

doc1WHY
Better customer help, happier customers.
HOW
Socialize existing publishing pipelines.
WHAT
Replace PDF and static content outputs from current publishing pipelines with a social publishing endpoint.

XML and DITA based CMS’s have proven market value by decreasing the cost of authoring, maintaining and translating content. While powerful in lowering costs, CCMS platforms are publishing value laden content into obsolete pre-Web formats such as PDFs, static HTML and first generation knowledgebases.

End users’ expectations are higher than ever. Twenty year old static formats are still the primary mediums used today and these fail to meet the needs of end users. Recent studies (Greenfield Online, Datamonitor, Ovum Analysts and Genesys) estimate the failure to meet customers’ support needs is the publishing-flow3primary cause of customer churn and this creates as much as $83 billion of annual losses caused by product abandonment.
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Our latest webinar, “Don’t Overlook Governance! Understanding The Need For Control In A Web Content Strategy” was a discussion between Scott Abel, The Content Wrangler and Kristina Halvorson, founder of Brain Traffic and author of “Content Strategy for the Web”. The two discussed governance – what it is, what it isn’t, and why we need it – and explored how organizations can build adequate controls into their content strategy.

The webinar was an action-packed 60 minutes! The recording and Q&A (by Scott and Kristina) are now available below. Enjoy!
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