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Unhappy customers are a good thing

I am reading a white paper on the information and media industry written by the investment banking firm Berkery, Noyes & Co., LLC. It's a fascinating look into what could be the future for companies that provide information content such as books, music and news.

I am appreciating the style of the report because it comes from a purely objective perspective. The degree to which these folks understand the future will have a direct impact on the success of their investment clients. There's no rosey-eyed bull**** in this report. In the words of Detective Joe Friday, "Just the facts, ma'am. Just the facts."

One of the ideas I've pulled from the pages is the concept of learning from customers who are not satisfied with your current product offering. Here's a taste:

    Customers [have been] relatively passive players in the process, acquiring content as it was packaged and presented to them.
    But we see a radically picture today. Users have become active participants. Technology has enabled them to actively select content, to manage it, to use it in different ways, to create it, to add to it, to manipulate it, analyze it, and, importantly, to be a powerful force in distributing it to both mass and highly targeted users.

Take some time to think about how you can make your product or service more like iTunes. Instead of buying the entire CD from you, could you allow your customer to manipulate your content and create their own unique version of it?

Are you ready to give up that much control?

You better be.

Note: The report is lengthy and will take a few minutes to download on some connections.

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