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Why our customers are smart

Sunday, January 04, 2009 by Dave Winer.

I often tell stories about companies who treat their customers or developers as if they were idiots. But that's not to say my own company, the one I started, didn't do this too -- it did. It's human nature, but it's bad human nature, it's self-defeating, it's dysfunctional.  Permalink to this paragraph

When I heard someone say a customer was stupid, I said if that's true we're really fucked.  Permalink to this paragraph

Here's how I reasoned... Permalink to this paragraph

1. We have to believe our customers are the smartest people, because they were smart enough to choose the best product.  Permalink to this paragraph

2. If they were stupid, then they chose the wrong product and we're dead, so you'd better start looking for a new job Permalink to this paragraph

The only logical way to proceed is to: Permalink to this paragraph

1. Make the best product. Permalink to this paragraph

2. Find the smartest customers. Permalink to this paragraph

3. Treat them like the geniuses they are. Permalink to this paragraph

4. And earn their respect. (Which they never failed to give us, as long as we did 1, 2 and 3.) Permalink to this paragraph

Our customers really were the smartest people -- we made products that you had to be smart to want. But I think every company has to feel their customers are the smartest, or else why bother coming to work? Permalink to this paragraph

Further, we don't look for "feedback" from customers, we look to learn from them. Feedback is what you ignore. Learning is how you build. Permalink to this paragraph

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A picture named dave.jpgDave Winer, 53, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.

"The protoblogger." - NY Times.

"The father of modern-day content distribution." - PC World.

One of BusinessWeek's 25 Most Influential People on the Web.

"Helped popularize blogging, podcasting and RSS." - Time.

"The father of blogging and RSS." - BBC.

"RSS was born in 1997 out of the confluence of Dave Winer's 'Really Simple Syndication' technology, used to push out blog updates, and Netscape's 'Rich Site Summary', which allowed users to create custom Netscape home pages with regularly updated data flows." - Tim O'Reilly.

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