Jon Udell's column in this week's InfoWorld is entitled Open Source Documentation. Jon's noticed that you can often find better support information by turning to Google than you can by going to the company's support page. I've heard Dave Weinberger related the same kind of expeerience with respect to finding pre-purchase information on a washer/dryer. Mr. Google almost always has the answer, whereas your typical support page is poorly organized and difficult to use. Even with that, the information you're looking for probably isn't there. As Jon points out:
Collectively, we users know a lot more about products than vendors do. We eventually stumble across every undocumented feature or quirk. We like to maintain the health of the products we've bought and we're happy to discuss how to do that with other users.From InfoWorld: Open source documentation: January 07, 2005: By Jon Udell
Referenced Thu Jan 13 2005 21:36:43 GMT-0700
Jon proposes an interesting solution: vendor support for Wikipedia pages that provide users a forum for self-servicing. I don't know if Wikipedia is the right place or not, but I do think Jon has a great idea. Service organizations don't do enough to tap their user's collective knowledge. There's competitive advantage to the company that can figure this out and is brave enough to try it.
Bonus: In the same issue, there's a head-to-head review of four on-demand sales automation tools including Saleforce.com and a new offering from RightNow (CRM 7.0). Interestingly, RightNow scores the lowest of the group--falling down on integration and performance. The review praises its workflow subsystem and pans its dashboard.