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Customer Service is non-existent for many vendors

So few organizations understand the cost of poor customer service that the industry is at risk

Customers will buy products when the products are what they need and the vendors they deal with provide them with good service. The decision to purchase a product comes into the equation when the customer has to go through their own justification process. If product improvement is not all that great and past experience with a vendor is not good, the customer is strongly motivated not to buy the new product.

As people look at what it takes to drive the economy, many conclude that sales of products - - not just service is what needs to be improved. The difficulty is that quality of service drives all follow-on sales. That is the case with Boeing 747 and software developed by American companies. This is where industry leadership should be focused, not on how to get an extra nickel out of a dollar.

In the course of normal everyday operations, we all read of new software and upgrades to packages that we use every day. Many of the new versions sound like they will answer all of our problems. With the movement of the corporate world to Windows this is happening with an ever increasing frequency.

As these announcements are made, we are all motivated to get and use new and enhanced offerings as quickly as possible. What we have learned is that because of the lack of customer service by vendors, this is not a good idea at all.

Many new or enhanced products have given vendors a chance to exceed our worst fears Vendors continue to operate in the mode that this is a mass market that you can afford to write off a percentage of your customers and not worry about the ramifications. Some great examples of firms that have done that and have lost the leadership position that they once had include Lotus (123 - leader to fighting for existence), and Ashton-Tate (dBase leader to one of the biggest losers of market share and volume in an expanding market). Other firms continue to try and reach that standard. Listed are a number of examples of types of problems that we have seen with various vendors. This is not an all inclusive list but it does include a number of industry leaders.

  • After being converted to windows, DOS applications that had worked wonderfully are almost impossible to use -- Xtree, Fastback and Foxpro.
  • Applications are enhanced beyond the point of working including elimination of features that were used everyday -- Delrina wins this hands down.
  • Vendors assume their software works, therefore, they do not have enough telephone support. Either the line is always busy or you only get music on hold on a non 800 number for hours on end -- Delrina (WinFax Pro) and Campbell Services (On-Time) are among the industry leaders in this.
  • Vendor provides a conference on a public bulletin board and three weeks after the employee who is the SYSOP resigns, the company assigns someone to review the messages on the bulletin board -- Microsoft.
  • Vendor has products with bad drivers in shrink wrapped packages and continues to ship it without even having a corrected driver on a public bulletin board -- The IBM Multimedia Card for Micro channel is the best example of this.

Many new or enhanced products have given vendors a chance to exceed our worst fears

Revenue maximization is the driver of new product enhancements There is nothing wrong with firms trying to maximize their revenue. The difficulty is when we see companies try to figure a way to get a few more dollars without adding value. I do not want to harp on DEC or Computer Associates but they are both prime examples of firms that are trying to maximize revenue without trying to add value to their customers. Why should a customer pay more because the vendor has poor distribution practices or because the customer is running purchased software on another computer or on a bigger box if there is no difference in the code that is running?

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