The Two Keys To Happy Customers

The gang at O'Reilly link to a post about what customers want in a cellphone carrier.

The answers might surprise you, but they provide insight into what customers want from any business.

The first key to happy customers is improved basics:

Make “voice” superb first before adopting high-capacity services such as mobile video

Improved usability of basic telephony and messaging functions (eg. Voicemail)

Don’t compete with other carriers on cell towers. Work together to give me the best reception everywhere, regardless of who owns which spot on a tower. It’s silly to be in places where on carrier’s phone works, and another doesn’t.

If you don't nail the basics of the product or service you provide, your customers will be dissatisfied. This is true even if you have a company blog, use wikis, have cool ads by Cripsin Porter+Bogsky on YouTube, have a podcast with your Branson-esque CEO, etc.

Getting the basics right is not as sexy as any of those other things, and those other things are ok to have if you've got the basics right, but are you in this for sexy or to build a good business?

The second key to happy customers is simplicity:

Much cheaper international roaming (fair prices please)

The cost to transport a call internationally is almost never more than a few cents. Stop ripping customers off on international calls. They’ll start using you instead of Skype.

Treat me as an important person - for example I expect my operator to know who my friends are and offer a discounted rate to calling my friends. And offer me some discounts/thank yous etc, because I pay a lot of money on mobile phone bills each month

In this case, it's simplicity and transparency in pricing. People don't have enough time to deal with managing their own lives, nevermind understand your products and pricing and why they're the greatest thing since Cute Overload.

So simplify, simplify.

The downside of pricing that's not transparent is that customers get angry and take action because they feel like they're being taken advantage of. Air travellers are taking action because they feel like they're getting gouged by the big carriers.

Meanwhile, Southwest and JetBlue rely on simple and transparent pricing and spend their energy on doing the extra things to delight their customers.

These companies don't get (or care) that angry customers don't make for happy customers.

The mobile carriers have operated in a regulated environment that heavily restricted access to the market for new entrants. Technology will change that, and the mobile carriers will scramble as customers leave in droves for a carrier that works to delight its customers (can you imagine?!)

So remember: if you want happy customers, nail the basics, and simplify the decisions your customers have to make.

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About

Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer

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