As a follow up to my last article “B2B Vs. B2C” I wanted to address another question that resulted from my attending a technology event. To simply recap, the company in question had previously developed products for other companies in single digit quantities. At this point they are considering launching their very own commercial product but have a concern….what if the product is too successful?
At first glance this may seem like a silly concern. Why should an individual or business be concerned with the possibility of success – especially in this economy? Isn’t that what everyone aims for? Not necessarily. Success comes at a price.
The Price of Success
Two prices that I can think of off the top of my head are high visibility and the potential for a large volume of support center calls. What if the released product sells like hotcakes and the company in question does not have the resources to support it?
This is a viable, and realistic concern. However personally I would not recommend that a person or company hold themselves back for fear of success. Generally I have found that individuals and organizations grow with their problems. As the organization grows, the problems get bigger. By the same token, as the problems get bigger, the organization is better suited (by having more resources and knowledge) to handle the new problems. Simply put – you will grow and step up to meet the challenges as they arise. Where there is a will there is a way.
But what about the customer service issue? What if the company in question releases a commercial product and does not have adequate support to quell a potentially angry mob?
Communication is Key
I recommend one solution here – communication. Communication solves nearly any problem. The communication must be frequent and authentic. Head the problems off quickly before they become unmanageable.
What if your new product has an unexpected “feature” which makes it essentially useless? Communicate with your customers and outline the problem. Take full responsibility and outline a solution. Customers are generally reasonable if given honest information and are communicated with regularly. On the other hand, dishonesty and infrequent communications make customers nervous and ultimately clamor for justice in the form of refunds.
Recently I had come across an interesting article which described the dilemma of one particular start-up. Based on the article it appeared that the new venture had actually pre-sold their product to a number of customers. Something rather predictable next occurred – the product was delayed – numerous times. How did the company resolve this issue? They created a blog which communicated directly with their customer base. The blog continues to diffuse a potentially explosive problem. Consider this – customers have already paid for the product – and the final product has not even been released yet, and has actually been delayed on a number of occasions. Don’t take my word for it – read the whole story – “Hamstrung by Delays, Fitbit Explains and Tries to Deliver.”
It’s amazing what frequent and authentic communication is capable of.