THE BLOG
09/25/2014 05:22 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2014

7 Recommendations for Treating Customers as Knowledge Workers (i.e., Knowledge Customers)

While I was writing my latest book, Why Marketing to Women Doesn't Work, I came up with a term I quite like called "Knowledge Customers," which borrows from earlier work on the Knowledge Worker.

I have listed below seven barriers to smooth knowledge flow, which are based on Davenport and Prusak's (1998) work on knowledge management. Instead of providing solutions on how to better manage knowledge workers, I have adapted the solutions to demonstrate how to more effectively manage customers, in particular women customers.

1. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: A lack of trust.

Solution: Build trust, create touch points and let women build relationships with your organization and other customers, especially those within her brand community. Deliver on promises. Pay attention to complaints.

2. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: Different cultures, vocabularies and frames of reference.

Solution: Create common ground by listening carefully to her and understanding her: (a) vocabulary and frame of reference; (b) issues she cares about; and (3) her values. Then communicate with her by echoing her vocabulary, issues she cares about and her values. Also share your point of view when you communicate with her, give her details of the brand and its history. Finally, give her something to talk about. Share content (photos, stories, feelings) and encourage her to do the same.

3. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: Lack of time and meeting places.

Solution: Help her to manage her time, make it easy for her to get information and focus on what's important. Establish meeting places, give her [virtual] places where she can meet your organization and other like-minded customers and share her stories.

4. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: Status and rewards go to knowledge owners.

Solution: Provide incentives and reward her loyalty. Make her feel that her business with your organization is valued and reward her for sharing with others.

5. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: Lack of absorptive capacity in recipients.

Solution: Let her learn, she doesn't mind not knowing the answers. Therefore, allow her to ask questions and express her imperfections. Encourage peer-to-peer collaboration.

6. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: Believe knowledge is the privilege of particular groups; "not invented here" syndrome.

Solution: Let her share, collaborate and be part of a team, help her create a community or be part of yours. Involve her.

7. Barrier to Smooth Knowledge Flow: Intolerance for mistakes or need for help.

Solution: She's not afraid to make mistakes, nor is she afraid to ask for information or assistance. Make it easy for her to correct her errors and seek information. Allow her to share stories about the mistakes she's made and what she has learned. She is willing to share and express her feelings. Therefore, make it easy for her to share her feeling with your organization and with other customers. Be the brand that gives her the opportunity for self-improvement so that she can improve the quality of her relationships with others. How can your brand help her live well and improve her quality of life?

As I mentioned, applying the principles of knowledge workers to customers not only improves the way in which organizations market with women but will improve marketing practice overall.

Reference: Davenport, Thomas and Prusak, Larry (1998) Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know (p. 97). Boston: Harvard Business School Press