Customers are more willing than you think…

Let’s be honest, most companies go for the sale of their product and then that is it. A good company then sorts out it’s customer service, just in case a customer has something that they want you to deal with. That is usually the end of it. But your customers are worth much more. Your customers often care about the products they bought from you and use them daily. So why stop there? If you are a technology based company, over time your products will become outdated. That will annoy your customers and they will have to go and look for a new product. Great, you might think. Another sale. Well, it might be, but it might not be the easy money you thought it would be.

Over the past weeks I have been watching from the sidelines as a premium brand for audio equipment became the prey of it’s once loyal customers. The reason? The lack of firmware updates for their multi-thousand euro machines. After keeping their customers at arms’ length, the company decided to cut customer communication altogether and publicly announced that it would not discuss anything with its user base anymore. That did it for one of their loyal customer. An enthousiastic programmer by day, he spent the rest of his time figuring out their firmware and wrote his own update, incorporating the techniques found in newer, more expensive models and released it through an independent forum. Within a couple of days the manufacturer responded, dooming all users that would have the evil courage to use the updates. Within hours many disgruntled users voiced their opinion and vouched to turn away from the brand for any future purchases.

The lesson to be learned? Upon asking a number of members of the forum, it turned out that many of them would have been very willing to pay decent amounts of money to acquire an official firmware release. However, the company chose to force them to purchase new products. A strategy that seems to have lost them many very loyal customers. If only they had released a firmware update that could have been written within a working day, they would have kept their customers and raised their turnover more than they have done now. In contrast, look at Sony Ericsson, who’s X10 has received an HD camera courtesy of a software update. Now that is caring for your customers.

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