Many brands strive to achieve customer loyalty, but few achieve it. So you would think companies would do anything they could to attract and retain as many customers as possible. Well, at times, brands do things that defy logic. This is one of those tales.
Anyone who knows me, knows that I'm a big fan of Microsoft and open-source platforms. As a result, I have been an avid fan of Microsoft's Zune music player platform for as long as it has existed. I have never owned an iPod, and have lived my entire digital music existence on Windows Mobile OS and as of 2006, Zune OS.
My latest MP3 player is the 3rd generation Zune 120GB. I've owned three Zunes and this one has been my favorite so far. It's jam packed with features and has been a very solid device up until this past week. To make a long story short, my Zune died and there is no fixing it. To make matters worse, I could find a myriad of instances on forum sites where other consumers have experienced the same issue with their Zune ' yet there were no posted solutions for fixing it.
I didn't believe what I was reading. I thought to myself, 'How could a company as big and profitable as Microsoft possibly turn its back on consumers? The fatal disease my Zune acquired is not a user error, it's a hardware error. Surely they will make things right'?. Well, I am sad to report that Microsoft has seemingly done the impossible ' turned its back on owners of these failed products by offering no apologies, no recognition of their being an issue and no ability to fix the problem at a free or discounted rate. In talking with customer service, I was offered the same two options that all the others had posted about ' pay $160 for a refurbished device or pay $130 for a refurbished and lesser 80GB model. I felt insulted that they actually expected me to pay $160 for a new device and then felt doubly shunned when they actually asked that I consider downgrading my product. What kind of support is that? This is how they are going to reward customers for their loyalty? This is how they are going to make up for known product issues? This doesn't sit well with me.
As Director in the Consumer Insights and Planning group, it is my job to make sense of things ' sort out all the details and figure out what brands or consumers are thinking. But this dilemma proves difficult to rationalize. This entry is by no means a jab at Microsoft ' I still love them as much as ever, but what I struggle with is when I see brands create difficulty for themselves when they don't have to. As a result, I encourage all that read this to question their brand's or agency's protocols ' do they make sense for what you are trying to accomplish? Are your practices helping you make inroads with customers and maintain relationships? Does your strategy make sense? If not, it might be time to make some changes before you start heading down the wrong path.