How Not to Win and Keep Customers
Dear @inDinero –
I was in love from the moment we met. You: clean lines, big, clear type, easy-on-the-eye charts, graphs and buttons. Me: small business owner with a head more for words than numbers, but still with a keen understanding of how to balance my checkbook. All I ever wanted – simple profit-and-loss statements, a color-coded plug-n-play budget tool, automatic feeds from my bank accounts – was you. Until you decided that I, the customer who paid you a subscription fee – the highest level you offered – every single month for almost two years now, was not enough.
You didn’t even have the decency to break up with me in person. Instead, my automatic feeds just started acting sporadically. When I reached for the Help button with my mouse – the adorable red-and-white lifesaver ring in the top right corner that I had touched maybe twice throughout our relationship – it WASN’T THERE. Gone. Ripped out from under me. I immediately took to Twitter (how could you have thought otherwise?) and lo and behold, you were hiding from me there too…no tweets since March (yes, once we reconnected on Twitter – only after multiple attempts and call-outs on my part – you said your account “had been down” for the last four months, but come on – I wasn’t born yesterday).
I finally found your support email address. I sent my note, just asking that my feeds start working again – this wasn’t a complicated request, just make the software work again like it always had (I hadn’t changed anything on my end). Here’s the kicker: your email reply was a big F YOU to your current customers, your PAYING customers. Apparently, we weren’t paying enough so you decided to pivot. That’s fine, I get it, that can totally be a smart business decision. What’s completely stupid on your part is that you didn’t even try to upsell me! I had been a paying customer for 2 years! I am a small business owner with needs for an accountant – hell, you would know that if you had the brains to just peek into my account and you could even see how much I paid for that service every year. Yet, what you did was send me an email response that said sorry, you’re not important to us, screw off. (At least, that’s how I read it – let’s see what others think – I’ve posted the email below.)
So, lesson for companies with paying clients that do decide to pivot (and we’ve had several of them as clients who’ve done it right) – if you’ve got paying customers you are already in a relationship with, think about them first. If the relationship is over, that’s fine, understandable, it happens! Just LET THEM KNOW before you move on. And if you’re smart, you’ll figure out a way to bring them with you without being condescending, arrogant, and shady (I would have kept paying for my measly little service, for instance, if the company had been even slightly interested in keeping me). If you don’t, it’s going to hurt your brand. And as a small company – a cloud–based software company just like thousands of others out there – you might not survive that kind of brand hit.
Email from inDinero “support” dated June 5, 2013:
Hi there! This email is just to let you know that we’ve received your email and that we’re looking into your request.
Note that service requests are on backlog and it may take up to 5-10 days for self service users to receive a response. [NOTE FROM STARR – IT’S OVER TWO WEEKS AND I STILL DON’T HAVE A RESPONSE]
I want to give you some extra transparency: The company took a pivot a few months ago, and our entire support team has been giving preferential treatment to our full service clients, who pay us to take care of all their accounting/tax/payroll needs. Tax season is taking a toll on us and we’re working through the weekends trying to keep up with the heavy support load.
We realize that this means a huge hit to the quality of our self service support, and we wish we could focus on both self service as well as full service. The unfortunate reality is that 99% of our revenue and growth comes from full service, but we’re still paying an employee to spend a good amount of her time support the self service customers who have supported us from the beginning.
The bottom line is that our self service support is awfully slow right now and we feel terrible about it. With that said, the future of our business is in our higher price point full service program, and we’ve bet the entire business on that plan.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the program, shoot a note over to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can see if you’d be a good fit. [NOTE FROM STARR: REALLY? YOU WANT ME TO DO THE WORK TO FIGURE OUT IF I CAN STILL BE YOUR CUSTOMER? NO THANKS.]
Thanks for your patience and understanding,