I had a conversation with a customer today that highlighted the importance of self-service and knowledge bases, and perhaps how many companies are still underestimating their importance.
Online self-service and support portal have really become a competitive necessity and a differentiator. And it should be leveraging many of the new Web 2.0 technologies that I still see lacking from many of the businesses I interact via the Web. Wikis for community collaboration are a no-brainer, but I still see many companies lacking blogs, online forums or tools for rating, tagging or flagging helpful information.
To that end, I think many businesses are missing the boat on adopting, or at least considering, small Web 2.0 or related self-service technologies from niche providers that can take a big step in improving the online experience. Embedding YouTube videos or allowing information to be bookmarked are some obvious ones, but Google and Yahoo both provide gadgets to push information to user desktops and homepages.
That adds value for the customer and leverages common tools to help address customers’ needs more efficiently, and typically at the fraction of the price.