Tuesday, September 2, 2008

FT Article: User Experiences Suffer on Digital Products

I was lucky enough to stumble across the story, "The pen is mightier than high-tech gadgets" in the Financial Times by Lucy Kellaway. In it, she dissects the differences of the customer experiences of pens, laptops and iPods. The article focuses totally on the support of these products. When her favorite pen broke, she contacted Cross. They sent her a new pen along with her old one and included a friendly note:

"Compliments of Cross."

She compares that experience with the digital products we are familiar with such as laptops and iPods. Those products are created with the philosophy that a newer, faster one will come out in a very short time frame. If they stop working, they want you to buy a new one. Apple has typically offered to fix iPods I've had in the past that are out of warranty with an eerily similar price tag to what a new iPod would cost. When a laptop blue screens, instead of caring about what things we had on it customer support people typically respond with a "Sorry…Have to re-format the hard drive."

Just because these items are deemed as transitory devices doesn't mean they have to be supported as such. We remember these bad experiences and share them forever with people.
I've written about Shure in the past, which has a wonderful policy similar to Cross'. They have a lot of Good Experience Capital with me by replacing my expensive headphones, no questions asked. They connect right to the iPod and cost about the same price as a Nano, yet they just sent me new ones when the others broke.

A friend of mine at work shared a story with me about a local burger joint in Jersey City. They were training new cooks, so for that day, all the burgers were free. This happened about 7 years ago, yet he still brings this story up. That probably cost the restaurant nothing compared to their marketing budget, yet people are still discussing it. Priceless Good Experience Capital.

Here is a link to the Financial Times article:

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