Rich did finally find a solution to his problem: "It was to upgrade the firmware on the switch from 1.1 to 2.0. But did I get that tidbit of information from 3Com? Not a chance! It came from another user at a 3Com user group meeting."
Even Rich's method of solving his own problem by finding a peer with the answer, says Keegan, is so common that it is increasingly becoming not only the norm but the method companies endorse as a means to connecting problems with their solutions. Because so many users go to forums, chat rooms, Twitter, and anywhere else they can quickly describe a problem and get a solution from someone who has already suffered through the problem, companies are actively looking for ways to streamline that system -- rather than improve the phone experience. More and more companies are instituting systems that encourage this peer-to-peer support and are staffing those forums and social media sites with people who are there to monitor, facilitate, assist, and moderate the questions and the answers.
Will that peer-to-peer support be better than the help Rich got from 3Com? Let's hope so -- at least for the companies offering it. Because driving customers to their tipping point drives them elsewhere -- as Rich's conclusion shows.
"I swore from that point on we'd never spend another dime on 3Com equipment," he says. "And, as far as central IT is concerned, we didn't. It took us until 2007 to divest the organization entirely of 3Com garbage."
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