Your small customers are now big

We’ve all read about how the Internet and social media has changed things for business. Customers now have a much louder voice through blogs, Twitter, Facebook, foursquare, etc. Some companies get it, some are learning, and some are still hoping if they don’t look, maybe it will all go away.

Recently, my company moved its sales team to the platform. I am very lucky that I work for a company that sees the value of using leading edge technology. With the adoption of Salesforce, all sorts of possibilities are opened up from a Marketing perspective. Having our sales information in the cloud enables us to do a lot of exciting things. With that, we started looking for an application to run our email campaigns that would integrate with Salesforce. We did a lot of research, viewed a lot of demos and finally decided on ExactTarget.

I went to ExactTarget’s website and filled out a form explain our usage and provided our contact info. We were not going to be confused as a heavy user by any means, but a user non-the-less. I waited. Two days, three days, nothing. I called ExactTarget. The woman I spoke with said she saw my info and that someone would contact me shortly. Four days, nothing.It was then that I was given the name of a local reseller of ExactTarget. I called them and got our account set up very quickly. We were set to go, or were we?

There were problems from the beginning. Too many to go into. But it wasn’t the functional problems that bothered me the most, it was the lack of response from ExactTarget. They viewed us as a small customer so they didn’t care. We were promised fixes numerous times but nothing ever materialized. We eventually realized that things would probably never get fixed because ExactTarget didn’t care if they got fixed. We would generate very little revenue for them so they weren’t going to put valuable resources into fixing our problems.

This approach to business may have worked in the past when customers had no real way of making their displeasure known. But the Internet changed things. I went to the Salesforce AppExchange and voiced my displeasure. I gave ExactTarget very poor ratings. And wouldn’t you know it? Within 30 minutes I got a call from ExactTarget. The problem still wasn’t fixed, and we’ve moved on.

The lesson here is that EVERYONE now has a voice. Your biggest AND smallest customers. 10 years ago a company could get away with ignoring their smallest customers, but not anymore. The smallest customers often have the biggest voices. Its important to make sure they are happy.