Product Managers Should Choose Service Over Product

As a product manager, often we are faced with the question. Is the customer always right? If we are honest, the answer, probably not. However, the customer expects and requires good service. Assuming you want to keep them as a customer.

Loyal customers gravitate to the products we build for various reasons. Some is due to clever marketing, some is the different feature or service we provide and sometimes its a bit of dumb luck. Regardless, however we capture that loyalty, we need to keep it. Here is a brief story of where loyalty was lost.

I am a big fan of wireless headphones. Between airplane rides, endless conference calls and running, you can expect to find a pair of headphones around my neck. Another observation that you could make is that I am brand loyal. I find something I like and I am loyal, almost to a fault. I’m finding, there is a connection between loyalty and service.

Bose

Two years ago, I purchased a mid-priced set of wireless headphones that I wore all the time. After about a year, they stopped working. I was moderately happy with the quality, but for the price, I was fairly content. Being frustrated that they stopped working, I called tech support, which is out of character in itself. You know, to actually call someone. The experience was reasonable and they replaced the broken headset free of charge, no questions asked.

About a year later, same thing. The replacement pair stopped working. At this point, I have grown less satisfied with the quality, in general. This time, I logged in to their support “chat” and the experience was much different than the phone call. It took entirely too long for them to take all of my information and various emails back and forth to provide proof of purchase. Eventually 3-4 emails later, I received a confirmation email to ship my defective set back and approximately 10 days later they would send a new pair. What?! Keep in mind, this whole time, I am on the road and shipping anything was a hassle. Not to mention, I am now roughly two weeks without a pair of wireless headphones. First world problems, I know.

One week later, I am still carrying the defective headset around in my bag. Just annoyed at the whole process. Low and behold, yesterday I receive an email from a competitive product announcing brand new, high end, wireless headphones. Was this a sign? Not sure. Needless to say, I bought two brand new pair of the competitors product in lieu of a free replacement pair from my former loyal brand.

The morale of the story. As product leaders, ensure you are providing great service. All the time, no questions asked. Is the customer always right? Not sure, but this customer is waiting on UPS to try out his two brand new pair of headphones.