Home » Uncategorized » Abandoning customers is bad for business

(Sorry, I am in a ranting mood this afternoon)

Abandoning customers is bad for business? Duh. I know, this is not rocket science. I know this is one of the fundamentals of running a solid and successful business. So why am I reading and hearing about so many businesses who are and what is the cost?

This question was actually asked of me recently. One of my customers asked me if the decision by Microsoft means I will be abandoning VFP and with it abandoning the customers I have worked with for years. My answer was “Absolutely not!”

I recently wrapped up the work with another customer. In meetings in the last month of the project the customer asked me if they needed support would I be around. They were worried because they had me working on their project for more than two years. We decommissioned a FoxPro for Windows application, but their 2.6 app will run for the near future because some of the functionality is not in the new application and likely will never be in the new application. I told them they could call me anytime. Just because I am not in their offices does not mean they all of a sudden are not my customers.

So why are other businesses abandoning their customers?

Example #1: General Motors. For years we owned Safari vans (yes multiples, I think 4). The reason we owned a van is we are a family of five and need to tow a heavy camper. We liked the Safari because it fit in the garage, yet it had a strong engine and lots room for the kids, the dog, and our gear. GM decided to stop making the vans three or four years ago. The full size vans are ugly, consume too much fuel, and won’t fit in our garage well. We settled on the GMC Envoy XL as our replacement for our van. It is definitely smaller so we take less gear when we travel, but some of the gear we are leaving behind are bicycles which is a huge trade-off. GM has now decided to stop making the XL and the regular Envoy is too small for a family of five with a dog. The replacement for the Envoy XL is not as nice. Abandonment.

Example #2: Hewlett-Packard. Previously HP had stated that they would not be producing any new print drivers for printers that were more than 3 years old. What? I still have an HP 4P Laser printer in the basement that works fine. It is slow, but the electronics work fine. This printer must be 15 years old. Printers were built better back in the 90′s (said in my best cranky old man impression). How can HP think they can get away with thinking every time you update your OS or more naturally introduce a new OS into the computing environment you should get a new printer? Nonsense. Complete nonsense. Fortunately I read this morning where HP has reversed this decision. Could it be their customers were outraged, or did common sense all of a sudden kick in?

Example #3: You knew this one was coming, Microsoft. Vista has some real positives in it, but Microsoft is really missed the boat when it comes to customers. SQL Server 2000 and MSDE – not supported on Vista. SQL Server 2005 patched so it runs on Vista more than a month after Vista was released to consumers and many months after it is released to businesses. SQL Server is strategic in the Microsoft revenue stream. “Just upgrade” is not a simple and straightforward task when businesses run their mission critical apps on the database. Visual Basic was dropped cold years ago and VB6 developers are still trying to get new versions out of Microsoft. J++ gets the ziggy after Microsoft woo’ed Java developers over to their side. VFP is feature complete. FrontPage was recently dropped (some say it was a blessing), but at least Microsoft has their new Expression Web product to replace it. No security patches for Windows 2000 and even XP SP1 is inexcusable in my opinion. Just because Microsoft decides it is out of its support cycle does not mean businesses and home users will automatically upgrade. There are significant costs involved for Microsoft and consumers. Vista is getting compared to Windows ME, and this is definitely not positive. I got a phone call this morning from the Microsoft Partners program because they wanted me to know about the Linux Winback marketing campaign. This campaign is suppose to provide my company with the marketing material to convince my customers and prospective customers to move back to Windows. Seriously. I told them they need to focus on keeping the Windows customers happy instead of trying to win them back. Abandonment of customers is not a good business practice.

Example #4: Coke: The makers of Coca-cola abandoned their customers when they introduced their “new” Coke and later had to come out with Classic Coke so customers would return. I am not sure if this was a premeditated plan or not, but I remember how I felt as a customer. Abandoned.

Companies need to wake up and smell the hot chocolate. Otherwise they won’t be in business very long or spending lots of money trying to regain the customers they lost.

One Response to “Abandoning customers is bad for business”

  1. May 4th, 2007 at 03:44 | #1

    Hi Rick,

    I fully agree with you regarding this article. And I also began to think that Microsoft is not hearing to his customers, bad thing.

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