Saturday, 12 January 2008

How to treat your customers...

Today I've spent my full morning looking for a VOIP service. Unfortunately, the VOIP market has only two players: Skype and everyone else. Skype is good, their payment processing is nice and you have lots of hardware, but they are missing a critical feature for me: they don't have incoming numbers for Argentina. I have looked at the Gizmo Project, which is good too, but my credit card doesn't work with them and they have disabled Paypal, so I cannot use them either; they both have strong barriers of entry to me.
I have looked at different options and finally hired a company that didn't look really good, but offered me one big advantage: No strings attached, one time payment of 15 dollars via Google Checkout. Unfortunately, the service is crappy, so I won't be their customer anymore. However, due to the low price and the one time payment (with the extra assurance of using Google Checkout) I gave them a try, and they sold 15 dollars. There are other companies who look better, but they require a 1-year-long ironclad contract, and that means I will never use them. This is what Joel meant by saying that you have to get your customers IN before you can try lock them in, or they are locked out.
In case you have not read any other common sense marketing articles, I certainly recommend Seven steps to remarkable customer service, or Joel's Strategy Letters. I know what I say, I have an MBA, you can trust me on this.

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