When do you stop caring about your product and customers?

I know this may sound crazy, but I truly believe that many businesses stop caring about their products and/or their customers.  Which leads to the title of this post, “When do you stop caring about your product and customers?”

What do I mean by this?  Two things: Short-Sizing and Cutting Quality

With Short-Sizing, they’re flat out lying to their customers.  Instead of having this conversation with customers: “Hey loyal customers who give us your hard earned cash, we need to talk. To keep our profit margins, we’re gonna need to either cut back the amount we give you OR we’re gonna have to raise prices.  Which do you want?” They simply choose to lie and then go to great lengths to hide it.

With Cutting Quality, they’re saying: “Well, we know the product is good, but we’re going to start making modifications to increase our profits.  Sure, we’ll be making the product at slightly less quality, but hey, we gotta sell more.  Plus, the newer customers won’t know it was ever that good in the past.”

Granted both of those are food related, but let’s face it, we know it goes beyond just food.

Apple has cut giving out free remotes with new Macs and the high end iPods don’t come with all the free tricked out extras that my 60 gig iPod+Photo did.  I received a docking station, A/V cable to hook the iPod to my TV and a nice case to protect the iPod. Now an iPod comes with a USB cable, a small power brick and earbuds. iPhones comes with the same, no dock ($29.00).

How does this relate to conferences and/or the 360Conferences biz?  Simple.  I was thinking the other day that John and I try very hard to make each show better than the previous one.  We’re constantly tweaking, trying to add more value for your money.  We  added more sessions to San Jose to get you more bang for your buck.  In Indy, we’re adding a new track aimed at the business side of Flex to help out in these tough economic times.

Yes, we’ve raised prices and we’ve cut back on some things, but we talked to our customers.  We asked for feedback.  I assume we’re doing good because we keep selling more and more tickets.  Plus, people keep saying that each show is better than the previous ones.

That’s the way it should be. You should delight your customers by giving them more than they expected, not by short changing them in hopes that they don’t notice.  (Yes, we faultered a bit in Europe and underdelivered, but we definitely weren’t trying to pull a fast one there.  We just made some bad mistakes that we can hopefully make up for in the future.) We think it’s time business started overwhelming and impressing customers. Time and again it’s been shown that it works, loyalty increases, additional purchases increase, etc. Few companies can get away with underwhelming, and keeping their customers.