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Power of Being Online

Voice of the CustomerAmong various benefits internet offers to its users, “Voice of the customer” is one of the most powerful tools. The notion “Customer is the King” is absolute reality in the internet age. Let me share a recent real life incident in which I personally experienced the power of being online.

Last year I bought a new Apple MacBook and I was very happy & excited when I started using it. Unfortunately, I faced multiple breakdowns – first battery crash, then data crash followed by hard disk failure. Even worse, I received horrible customer service from Apple’s service center in Delhi. More than the valuable data, I lost precious time fighting with Apple India. But they were reluctant to hear. Being an Online Marketing service provider, I thought of taking a different approach – instead of me going after them (push), let me create a pull towards me.

I authentically shared my experience of Apple MacBook and Apple India’s service at:
- Apple Sucks (MouthShut)
- Apple Sucks (CNet Reviews)

As expected, I got a call from them. They apologized for my experience and offered me a brand new and the next version of the laptop as the compensation. Although I didn’t want to but I finally accepted their request. Looking at the comments, view/read stats and the popularity of the above mentioned sites, I am sure that Apple paid a heavy price for the mistake of not listening to their customer. Since I’d given my email id in the review, I am receiving mails from people asking for my advice on whether they should buy Apple machine. Virtually, I am driving (or preventing) a part (however small it is) of their sales.

What lessons did I learn (equally applicable for you) from this experience?
1. My voice matters – As a customer, I am much more powerful today than ever before. I can and should demand the respect and service I expect from my vendors.

2. Customer is the king – As a business owner, I can’t ignore the voice of my customer or I will pay a very high price. Given the networked world (socially and professionally) today, it pays to be honest.

I can correlate this strongly to my previous venture in which we used to serve IT professionals who were strongly connected to each other through various discussion forums relevant to our services. Occasionally (especially in the very beginning of our venture), some people would say negative about our product/service. Instead of taking that as a feedback and an opportunity to grow, we used to defend ourselves by giving counter response. Till the moment we acknowledged our mistake, the problem would only grow. The moment my customer got the experience of being listened to, the discussion will end.

The same happened in this experience with Apple. The moment they called me I stopped thrashing them and when they again faltered I went out against them. This idea of writing a blog post about my experience serves two purposes – first, sharing the lessons I learnt with you and second, making Apple India realize the importance of customer service.

3. Pull always works better than Push – Whether you are selling or buying a product/service, pull always beat push. In the online world, pull is not only more effective but also more feasible.

I hope you find this experience valuable. Please do give your inputs and feel free to share any such experience you might have had in the past.

  • Ravi Saxena

    I happened to get some credit problem with EZEEGO1.com
    their customer support was bad. So posted a review on Mouthshut.com
    and soon I get a call from theri service head or someone.
    as someone said i like mouthsht and their business model lol

    also, i read that you are close to mouthshut ceo? for he featured your story in his newsletter

  • http://www.omlogic.com Pradeep

    Searching for “apple sucks” on Google gives my review at CNet on 4th position and on “apple india sucks” all top 3 results are my reviews :( .

  • Ajay

    I had some bad experience with rcom but when I gave them threat of consumer forum they agreed on the refund.

    All these companies even insurance companies work on this model only “If you can keep the customer waiting then let him wait, but if he going for some legal action then listen to him with priority”

  • http://www.omlogic.com Pradeep

    Samir – Yes, it’s a great learning for entrepreneurs. With each passing day, I am also learning the rules of customer service in this new age.

    Very well said Jaspreet. I needed to use Dell support for my wife’s computer and I am delighted with their support and communication.

  • http://www.druvaa.com Jaspreet

    Another advantage of being online is to be able hear the voice of your customers like – http://direct2dell.com/one2one/default.aspx

    I forgot the blog/poll dell launched to know what dell customers are missing. And dell + Ubuntu offering came out of that.

    I am big fan of initiates like these.

  • http://www.globalgreeninitiatives.com srinivas

    In my company “client first” value has gone a bit too much. Some team members use it as a tool to escape from their other responsibilities in the organization which they are supposed to equally prioritize.

    One question has always bothered me – Which one needs to be prioritised- The external customer who pays for your service or internal customer (read employees) who delivers the service? (I am talking about a service business)

    Any help?

  • Gurneet Singh

    U knw what i am also planning to buy a MacBook & just reading your review only on Mouthshut.com then i just saw this post..
    strange coincidence…& by d way you are right…
    I also followed a similar way while dealing with my teleco Idea..
    Dey themselves called me up & compensated for the problems faced by me..
    U r right,..
    Pull is always better than Push..

  • http://www.kmonyb.wordpress.com Krish

    I call it the power of *networked markets*. Brands should communicate with their markets directly. If they blow it, it could be their last chance.

    For good effect, blog slams should read like “Don’t worry, you can still make money. That is, as long as it’s not the only thing on your mind. If you don’t impress us, your investors are going to take a bath.” That should put many a butts in the line of fire.

    Soon I hope to see the boring “voice” of business – the empty mission statements and pointless brochures – on its way out.

  • http://bombaycurry.blogspot.com RYK

    I love MouthShut’s business model. 1st they created a community of opinions; now they charge brands/companies a fee for tracking everything being said about them !

  • http://www.teknotrends.com Samir Kelekar

    Very well said. I had a similar experience. Two years back, a
    hotel in Delhi treated
    me very badly — no pickup from airport as promised; also they
    moved me to a different hotel even though I had a confirmed booking,
    and finally I had a literal fight with some of the hotel guys on some
    flimsy reason. I couldnt do much then, but came back to Bangalore
    and did a post on tripadvisor.com

    Not just did I get emails from other potential customers, but the
    owner of the hotel called me and apologized and said that my post
    had diminished their business. He offered me a free room next time
    I came to Delhi.

    So, I agree with you completely.

    I guess there is a lesson for entreprenuers in this, that customer
    support, rather delight, is crucial!