Monetizing Customer Questions
So we notice poor Steve playing perpetual Whack-A-Mole with the sneaky consumers who just want to ask a question!
What if Optiboard were to have a feature for this demand? Consumers could truthfully claim their motives when signing up, sign off on a waiver, pay $10 and submit a question to a select panel of Optiboard members? Their forum access & communication features are restricted accordingly.
The Panel kicks it around in a private forum and sends the reply back to the consumer. Panel keeps $5. House keeps $5.
(By "Panel," I mean Robert...and Steve defers carpel tunnel surgery for a year or two.)
I don't know how prohibitive the overhead for all this would be, but I'd bet a little in-house crowd funding could whip it up. Couple of hours for Steve's hard working lawyer and some IT with "keep it simple" in mind for low maintenance.
1. Could be potential law suites for advice given. (anybody can sue anybody)
2. Vague complaint/questions can be extremely hard to give a definitive answer without a complete work-up/chart.
3. We've seen in the past how vile some consumers can get when they don't get the answer they want.
#2 would be my reason to vote down on it.
I think it's a good idea, but agree with optical24/7's #2. You never really have all the information without the chart and history.
Agreed the back-and-forth attempt to extract information from the questioner could be like pulling teeth. Vile people would kill it for me too, but I tend to find people willing to shell out a little money tend to be more receptive to the information they're paying for. They tend to be more constructive in their part of the process as well.
Not too worried about lawsuits. I'm sure there's a disclaimer that could cover it. I see similar sorts of services on the internet and they manage to make a go of it. Maybe I'm wrong in presuming our field enjoys the same feasibility, but a little research could probably determine that one way or the other.
The disclaimer would say exactly what mervinek said, "This is not medical, pharmaceutical, or ophthalmic consult or counseling. Without your medical charts and complete history, this service can't ensure a definitively accurate response for your individual case. Such a result is not guaranteed, nor are Optiboard or its affiliates responsible [yadda yadda yadda]....consult an Eye Doctor [yadda yadda yadda]...."
In fact, a big bold preface could say, "We are eye care professionals from across world independently serving our local communities. This service is not intended to replace the care of your local ECP, (nor could it if we tried.) We encourage you to engage the services of your local care providers, and to follow up in person on any information we provide you with a local care provider you trust." So long as it steered clear of medical questions, I don't think it's likely a situation could result that rationally incentivized a user to litigation. (Granted 'Contact Lenses' could get a little trickier. Big bold disclaimer up front on top of every answer..."THIS [gross picture] could happen to your eyes if you don't follow your Dr's directions and mfgr. guidelines...")
Very good observations--though I'm not sure I'm hearing any real deal-breakers yet.
I'm almost curious enough to do the legwork myself, except I just wouldn't care to do it at all without Optiboard's brand. It's already a proven draw to the public at large and something I wouldn't care to try to recreate from scratch. (I enjoyed the creative backstory in the post this morning that Steve capped off. I thought to myself, "There went $10!")
If Steve were in love with the idea, he could get some helpful, free scrutiny from the SBA. If it still looked attractive to him after that, I'd chip in for seed if enough others did too and a "first paid back" pool/small ROI if it went forward.
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