Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

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Imagine the dream scenario.

Your company has a popular existing product to which you’ve added a new feature.

As well as its intended purpose, this feature is found to be unexpectedly useful in a completely new application. It really captures the zeitgeist, and everybody want to use it, but it needs enabling and configuring – and no-one outside your company knows how to do this.

So people start calling your technical support desk… all day, every day.

But your tech support staff can’t keep up. They are swamped with enquiries. Customers have to queue as it’s hard to get through to a person.

Your workers spend all day answering the same questions, and dealing with increasingly irate customers. They work extended shifts but they still can’t meet the demand. They get fed up and demotivated, call in sick and start looking for other jobs.

The customers also become fed up. They begin to lose faith in the product and your company, but such is the demand for this new feature, that they still keep calling…

Then a rival product is launched to capitalise on the demand for the new application.

Sales in your product begin to drop and then dry up altogether. Existing customers return their products because they can’t access the new feature. They buy the rival product instead. Wholesalers demand their money back. The support calls stop coming.

Before you know it, your company is in financial trouble, and the dream has turned into a nightmare.

All because you didn’t produce a user’s guide. All because the customer had no way of discovering for themselves how to get the most out of your product.

OK, you say, but this is an exaggerated and extreme example, right? It surely couldn’t happen like that in real life. A company wouldn’t fail just because it doesn’t support its customers properly, would it?

Hmmm…

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