Just just had a light bulb moment, where I combined two different thoughts into one “ahhh ha!” thought. I’ve long felt that any business who takes care of its customers has an advantage over the ones who don’t. I’d rather buy a product with less features and work around those limitations for the time being knowing I would receive outstanding customer service than buy a product that has every bell and whistle but the customer service stinks (cough AT&T cough). On the flip side, I’ve always tried to understand the feature benefit of certain products, even when I have interviewed with certain companies I’ve always seemed to drill into “what makes your product different” and that, combined with the thought on customer service leaves only one answer. Differentiate yourself and/or your product by providing an outstanding customer experience (pre-sales, sales, implementation, use and on-going support), the customer loyalty will provide plenty of time to catch up on features.
I’ll pick on the two companies I tend to interact with the most on a day to day basis; VMware and EMC. When I want to test a product from VMware (even Microsoft for that matter), I click a few buttons and get taken to a download page and some documents to help me get started with the product. The products are generally so easy to setup and use I don’t need much in the way of directions. Deploy and OVF, boot up a VM, read the directions on the console like enter an IP address and then hit this web page. Pretty easy.
EMC, on the other hand, tends to make me jump through hoops. Maybe thats because they are more of hardware company and don’t understand software? I certainly can’t download a VNX and get the whole experience. They are, however, headed into a software era and will need to move away from POCs and VAR engagements to let me get a feel for their software. I am, in my spare work time, kicking the tires on storage solutions. I’d love to check out ScaleIO but, like I did for Avamar, need to go through a rep or a VAR to setup a POC and a webex and a follow-up call. That makes me turn away from their solution, even if it might be the best… and I dont know because its a PIA to get my hands on. I’ll focus my testing on VSAN, StorMagic SvSAN and Sanbolic because I get click a few buttons and get those.
So my resolution to myself, continue to provide an excellent customer experience at whatever I do, the rest will start to take care of itself.