Tuesday, October 28, 2008

UrbanBaby.com + CNET: Someone Didn't Tell Them That Not Knowing Your Customers Can Suck

Clive Thompson of Wired Magazine wrote an article in this month's issue called, "Social Networks and the Wrath of Moms". He tells the story of how UrbanBaby.com's purchasers CNET unleashed a "redesign" and subsequently jettisoned a large portion of their user base. Didn't they read about Guba last year? The redesign carelessly dispensed with features that their addicted users adored. Making matters worse for CNET is that two of these unhappy users were web developers. They re-created the old user experience they and many other UrbanBaby fanatics loved on a new website, YouBeMom.com. How long did it take for them to launch their competing online product? 7 days. 

This story is not just a testament to how incredibly fast online products can be developed and deployed, but also to how little companies pay attention to their customers. Why bother paying for an online product as CNET did and not bother to learn what the customers they inherited care about? They should have had that data before embarking on any features update, let alone an entire redesign. 

More and more people will have the ability to launch a product without needing a corporation behind them. Companies that don't know who their customers are and what their customers value will find it hard to compete in this new world. Focus solely on the technology of a product at your peril. 

By the way, read the comments section on the "About YouBeMom" page to see the debate on the ethics of duplicating someone else's product. Betty in NJ asks the question of feeling guilty over stealing the brand from UrbanBaby. In between all the nasty responses was an insightful reply from Another marketing voice who says:

They trademarked the brand and unfortunately did not continue to deliver on the brand promise, which in turn opened up an opportunity for a competitor to come in and do it better.

I have to agree. Brand Promise = Repeatedly Delivered Good User Experience. 

Read the complete WIRED article here: 
http://www.wired.com/techbiz/people/magazine/16-11/st_thompson

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