A software product I use has undergone massive changes over the last 6 months. So much so they skipped from version 1 to version 3.
In response to complaints about the changes on their forum, they offered the following basic response:
We did version #1 and people complained, so we completely changed the ways things work to do version #3. And we still get the same complaints!
There is a very subtle and potentially damaging message being offered here.
It says, “we are a rudderless ship, being blown about by the whims of the sea.”
Some would look at this situation and say things are great … that this is an example of a customer-driven company. To an extent, I agree.
The problem is that I have no idea what they’ll be moving towards tomorrow … next week … next month … or next year.
Many businesses talk about the importance of building a relationship with their customers. But a relationship is a long-term commitment, and without a core philosophy that I can buy into beyond the here and now … I’m missing a huge part of what I need to make a decision.
Think about it this way…
Switching from PCs to Apple computers was a big jump. I had to relearn a new OS, all new apps, find new resources sites to get things done. What encouraged me to do it wasn’t the pretty hardware (though it certainly caught my eye) … it was knowing their commitment to a philosophy of “it just works” going into the future. I was buying into a year from now as much as I was buying into today. Make sense?
Contrast that with the core philosophy of the Microsoft PC … well, do it if you can figure out what it is.
Here is an interesting question…
Imagine that I am a “perfect customer” for you. Now imagine I am standing in front of you and ask, “What are you doing right now, behind the scenes, to make my life even better going forward? And what is driving you to do it?”
Wouldn’t a good answer to that go a very long way to getting me beyond buying your product and to buying into a relationship with you?
P.S. Ever wonder why “behind-the-scenes” blogs are so effective? Why we like to see the development process, as it is happening? It feels good to know people are working, day-in and day-out, to help your life work better. Right?