Welcome to Customer Commons
How customers deal with good companies.Learn More
Customer Commons is a 501(c)3 nonprofit corporation, with a mission to give all the world’s customers full power when dealing with business—for the good of both people and business. It will do that by becoming a worldwide membership association representing all the world’s customers., and fostering development of tools and services that give customers that power. It was spun out of ProjectVRM, which is led by Doc Searls and hosted by Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society.
Customer Commons was created because there are many business and market problems that can only be solved from the customers’ side, under the customer’s control. In the absence of solutions that customers control, both customers and businesses are forced to use sell-side solutions that limit customer power to what can be done within each business’ silo, or to await regulatory help crafted in the nearly complete absence of native customer agency.
Here are some examples of vast dysfunctions that customers face today (and which hurt business and markets as well), thanks to absent customer agency and scale:
- Needing to “consent” to terms that can run more than 10,000 words long, and are different for every website and service provider
- Dealing with privacy policies that can also run more than 10,000 words long, which are different for every website and service provider, and that the site or service can change whenever they want, and in practice don’t even need to obey
- Dealing with personal identity systems that are different for every website or service provider
- Dealing with subscription systems that are different for every website and service provider requiring them
- Dealing with customer service and tech support systems that are different for every website or service provider
- Dealing with login and password requirements that are as different, and numerous, as there are websites and service providers
- Dealing with crippled services and/or higher prices for customers who aren’t “members” of a “loyalty” program, which involves high cognitive and operational overhead for customer and seller alike—and (again) work differently for every website and service provider
And here are some examples of solutions customers can bring to business and markets:
- Standardized terms that customers can proffer as first parties, and all the world’s sites and services can agree to, in ways where both parties have records of agreements
- Privacy policies of customers’ own, which are easy for every website and service provider to see and respect
- Self-sovereign methods for customers to present only the identity credentials required to do business, relieving many websites and service providers of the need to maintain their own separate databases of personal identity data
- Standard ways to initiate, change and terminate customers’ subscriptions—and to keep records of those subscriptions—greatly simplifying the way subscriptions are done, across all websites and service providers
- Standard ways for customers to call for and engage customer service and tech support systems that work the same way across all of them
- Standard ways for customers to relate, without logins and passwords, and to do that with every website and service provider
- Standard ways to express loyalty that will work across every website, retailer and service provider
- Standard ways for customers to “intentcast” an interest in buying, securely and safely, at scale, across whole categories of products and services
- Standardized dashboards on which customers can see their own commercially valuable data, control how it is used, and see who has shared it, how, and under what permissions, across all the entities the customer deals with
There are already many solutions in the works for most of the above. Customer Commons intends help all of those—and many more—come into the world.
But think about it: if companies want truly good customers, those customers need truly good tools of their own. Let’s make them.
Keep up with our work here:
- Our blog
- @CustomerCommons on Twitter
- ProjectVRM’s blog
- @VRM on Twitter