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How to Throw Away the Sale You Already Had

April 23rd, 2006 · No Comments · Customer Service as Marketing, General Commentary, Uncategorized

Yesterday, I went to the store and bought a new Internet router. And then I tried to set it up.

It said on the software CD that if you run a non-Windows computer (I use a Mac), double-click on a certain file. The file opened in my Internet (but from the CD). However, I tried three different browsers. All I got was a blank colored panel in Firefox, a complete blank in Internet Explorer, and a small question mark in the middle of my Safari page.

So off I went to the website to see if I could download the driver. I identified the product I’d bought and hunted unsuccessfully for the Mac driver. I did find a note that the Mac operating system is in fact supported, so that’s good.

Since I couldn’t find it, I tried to contact support. the contact page had no phone number or e-address, only a webform. So I filled in all my requested information, laboriously typed in the serial number, and tried to register–and got told to enter a valid serial number.

Worse, the page had reverted to blank; I was able to retrieve my filled out form only by hitting the Back button several times. Otherwise, I would have had to select the product and add all the data again.

My number had characters that could have been either zero or the letter O, so I tried switching one of the Os to a zero. No dice.

Guess what product I’ll be returning on my next trip to town. And guess what company has been permanently crossed off my vendor list (OK, so I’m not naming them here.)

Keep in mind, this was a completed sale. They had my money. All they had to do was make themselves available to give me a two minute explanation of how to set up the product and they’d have had a very happy customer. Instead, they’re toast in my mind.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: user experience counts far more toward the customer’s perception of the brand than all the logos, ads, and slogans in the world.

Want examples of companies that do it right? My book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First, offers several chapters that explore this idea.


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