Jason Dea's Pages

Thursday, July 7, 2011

We hate our customers...

Salami of Love

There I said it.  Nobody would ever use that as a marketing tagline (Though maybe if I wanted in some fashion to prove how big my umm balls were I’d try it) but this is the impression a lot of vendors give off.
Take my own consumer experience.  I recently completed an arduous 7 month journey.  It was a quest I had to undertake to get a $42 credit refunded to me by one of the Canadian telco providers.  It seemed like such a simple scenario.  I was leaving the service because of moving to an area their service didn’t cover, as a result I was entitled to a small credit since I had prepaid for the next month.  The process to get that check in the mail however was not so simple.

The funny thing is they kept sending me notifications letting me know that I was entitled to the refund credit, without ever sending the check.  And so began a weekly calling routine to see if I could finally find a customer service agent who could print and send an actual refund check.  Some said I simply had to wait for their systems to kick in, some said they could find no record of said refund in the system, others tried to escalate to management, and finally one day, someone was able to confirm a check was sent along with a tracking number.  Huzzah, I got $42.

While I was actually subscribed to the service I was actually quite happy.  But the customer service experience I had when leaving has made sure I will never go back.

I have a product manager friend with whom I often to talk to about how many organizations forget that the most important part of a product is the user experience AFTER a purchase has been made.  This includes everything from the experience of using the product itself through the experience of dealing with the support when something goes wrong.  Really good sales people (but sadly not all salespeople) know this as well.  For them the most important part of the sales cycle isn’t when a customer sends in a purchase order.  Rather it’s when they send in ANOTHER purchase order.

Where can marketing fit in here?

I think marketing and content in particular can be a great way to keep in touch with customers throughout their user lifecycle. 

In my experience many customers never take full advantage of all the capabilities of software solutions.  More depth of knowledge around the capabilities of a solution and more importantly perhaps more depth of knowledge about the problems they can solve to begin with can be tremendously valuable to end users.  Not only can it better position your end users as subject matter experts (and maybe even position them for a promotion) but for vendors it can ensure your products get better ingrained into business processes.
Had that telco provider kept better in touch with me through the lifecycle of my contract maybe I could have given them feedback as to why exactly I was happy with their service.  Maybe I’d have more patience with them at that point when it came to my refund.  Or heck maybe that way they’d have more notice ahead of time that I was moving to a region they didn’t cover and thus could have had my refund ready.



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