Customers don’t rave about your products when they’re good. They only rave about them when they’re great–and complain about them when they’re bad.
What makes a great product?
First and foremost, a great product isn’t what the developers or marketing guys or sales team think is great—a great product is what the customers think is great. To achieve that distinction, there are a couple of ways to do it.
- Get lucky.
- Customer research and then deliver the goods.
Although many companies have achieved viral growth with a great product by accident, the landscape is littered with companies that had really good products that missed the market. Even with a great product, you need great marketing and support to ignite the viral growth curve.
We’ve covered the product and marketing in this series, and next is Customer Support.
Why is superlative customer support so important in the viral growth curve?
First, let’s flip it around. How many times have you called in for software support and not had your problem solved? How many times have you punched numerous keys in response to menu prompts, only to finally get a tech support person who asks you if you’ve rebooted your computer or other inane questions? And then spent the next fifteen minutes having you do what you’ve already done?
And followed THAT up with more and more arcane steps that didn’t resolve the problem?
How willing were you to brag about that software to your friends?
To get the viral growth curve, you’ve got to achieve that WOW factor. If you’re software is pretty good, even great, there’s still going to be problems. There always are. You have to solve those problems in such a way that customers are very satisfied. They need to rave about your customer support!
When a customer has a problem that they think is your software, it’s your fault. Even if it’s a problem with Windows or another program, if it’s associated in their mind with your software (such as during install or a problem right after install), it’s your fault. Each one of those problems counts five or ten times against you.
Good customer support erases that 5X or 10X negative and replaces it with a positive.
You might think that a 10X negative versus a 1X positive isn’t fair, and it isn’t! But that’s how customers think and if you work hard to eliminate that negative and replace it with a positive, you’ve removed a heck of a lot of negative against you.
“Negatives” build up against viral growth. That’s not to say you won’t go viral if you have lousy tech support, because you can. But your product and marketing have to be that much better to overcome the dead-weight anchor of bad tech support.
One important component to going viral is word of mouth advertising. Great customer support results in word of mouth advertising. Instead of being against you, customers will be in favor of you. They’ll even blog about it, post their rave reviews of your support on your forums, even tell their friends.
Great support builds customers for life as well. Those customers become your bedrock, your foundation, your core. Going viral seldom happens in a few months—it’s usually a year or two (or more) of establishing your base and then the viral curve takes off.
If you provide great support to great products that are marketed well, you can’t help but succeed.
It’s amazing how many companies skimp on product support and the resultant mediocre reputations those companies achieve.
Don’t be mediocre—include great product support in your company’s arsenal of tools that will take you viral.