What percentage of customers should we be trying to please?

I’ve heard 80% is about right but in the past I’ve aimed too high.
My experience is that if you give the squeeky wheel all the oil you may be doing it at the expense of the majority of customers.
Some of my upgrades have been actually detrimental to sales by making the program slower, more complicated to use and with little reward for most users.
Matter of fact my sales increase when I don’t change things too much. People don’t like changes to their familiar interface or complex menu choices. And of course every change has the potential to break something else.

I shoot for 95% -99% satisfaction. Your right, most user prefer bug fixes over new features.
One thing I’ve found is I like to gather all the feedback I can. Having a large pile of feature requests help you have a better long term goal for your product. Users have no concept of the time it takes to add features. Some are 5 min. others take hours or days.
It is the responsibility of the programmer to come up with a solution that is easy for the user to navigate. If I would have followed all the advice that was given I would probably have a mangle piece of software.

I’ve achieved 100% by labelling those with complaints as “non-users”.

:slight_smile:

ah yes redefine the criteria after the fact
used to work for a guy who hit 100% of hit budgets & estimates that way - submit them after the project is done :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote=310915:@Kem Tekinay]I’ve achieved 100% by labelling those with complaints as “non-users”.
[/quote]
I’ll suggest this to Geoff & see how he likes it :stuck_out_tongue:

Sometimes you can improve your customer service with better project management techniques. The squeaky wheel should not be getting all the grease for sure. Some of it can be in how you are communicating to your customers. So, keeping them in the loop for changes or keeping them updated on their specific requests (can they be done, when) and simply responding can all help with satisfaction. Basecamp is an example of a company that does this well. They respond to everyone, keep a feature list, fix bugs, but all with a small staff. You don’t always get what you ask for, but they make you feel heard, which can turn a simple user into a big-time advocate.

You can’t do it all, but tracking the requests in a productive way can help you improve your product and improve your customers’ experience.

The most successful upgrade was the one where I introduced the long awaited 64 bit version of the program.
All I did was change the splash screen picture to something modern with “x64” in the corner and compiled as 64 bit with a new major version number.
Got heaps of praise about how fast it was even though my tests showed absolutely no speed difference.
Sales went through the roof for a while. A very profitable upgrade.

You should try to please all of your customers. But don’t believe that you actually will be able to do so. So what approach should you use? I don’t know since I am not familiar with your clientele. I, personally, think the best approach is to listen to your current customers, i.e. those using the recent releases, and address the most common issues. If one customer out of 10,000 has an issue and 1000 customers have a different but all the same issue, it gets obvious which issue has priority. (That’s assuming that the issues are of relatively equal severity.)

Your product is an investment for them, trying to get their tasks completed. But it is also an investment of yours, your time, effort, and brain cells. They are looking to get the best return on investment. You should too. Don’t get caught up greasing the squeaky wheel while the others are being neglected.

ah… to be so lucky as to have 10,000 paying customers :slight_smile:

On OSX, just managing to keep the ruddy thing working year on year is seen as a major plus by my customers.
(between Apple changes and Xojo changes, thats a struggle… I still cant ship in 64 bit because of 64 bit bugs)
Several of my competitors have given up trying.

So always mentioning the latest OS version on the website is a good thing to do.

I agree that loading features makes things more complex.
So on the one hand you have more power, the price of that is ‘your program is too complicated’ and also the more features you add, the more things can go wrong… :slight_smile:
And oddly, also the more things you give people to complain about: - your app sells well with 10 features, you add another two then someone says the 11th is a problem and wants a refund… :wink:

Slightly off topic, but heres a profit tip:

Each year I charge a small fee to upgrade from one version to another.
Not everyone upgrades (or needs to).

But I introduced a ‘lifetime upgrade’ fee, equivalent to just under 2 normal upgrades.
For this, those people get every new version forever without an upgrade fee.
I am quite sure that elicits an upgrade fee from people who would not have bothered in a year or two down the line.
But I get the money now, not then.
Surprisingly many people take that up, which effectively raises the selling price substantially.

[quote=310939:@Jeff Tullin]On OSX, just managing to keep the ruddy thing working year on year is seen as a major plus by my customers.
(between Apple changes and Xojo changes, thats a struggle… I still cant ship in 64 bit because of 64 bit bugs)
Several of my competitors have given up trying.[/quote]
I feel your pain.

Concur.

Lol… Really!

[quote=310939:@Jeff Tullin]But I introduced a ‘lifetime upgrade’ fee, equivalent to just under 2 normal upgrades.
For this, those people get every new version forever without an upgrade fee.
I am quite sure that elicits an upgrade fee from people who would not have bothered in a year or two down the line.
But I get the money now, not then.
Surprisingly many people take that up, which effectively raises the selling price substantially.[/quote]
Interesting, if you don’t mind me asking what category of product is this. I find it very hard to gauge my prices and selling system.

I felt very bad when I had to adopt a sorta subscription model with App Wrapper, because I’m not a fan of these myself. The trouble with App Wrapper is the same as what you described, in that Apple constantly change and I have to work hard to keep up, often running into undocumented changes is the worst.

Thankfully most people in the Xojo community understand the amount of work I have to put in on a regular basis with App Wrapper and I’ve had few complaints.

However my consumer based apps; people bitch and moan about having to pay $10 to upgrade to the latest version, especially when they purchased back in '08!

100% of course… those who not, are not my customers :wink:

[quote=310939:@Jeff Tullin]On OSX, just managing to keep the ruddy thing working year on year is seen as a major plus by my customers.
(between Apple changes and Xojo changes, thats a struggle… I still cant ship in 64 bit because of 64 bit bugs)[/quote]
True, there’s upgrades and then there’s desperate and urgent releases just to keep in the market.
I’ve always remained faithful to Xojo through thick and thin but there has been times when simply compiling with a new Xojo version has caused tried and true code written a long time ago to suddenly fail, much to my embarrassment in front of thousands of customers.
I’ve had to rewrite or recompile and release another upgrade within days. Then maybe do it again a day later. Humiliating.
Customers wonder why everytime they run the program the “Newer Version Available” dialog pops up. Nobody understands that it isn’t my fault and although new sales remain steady because those people haven’t had to endure all the changes the unlike stats on my Facebook page suddenly peak meaning existing Customers have shelved the program and are no longer interested in what I have to say.
Likewise both Microsoft and Apple have released OS that don’t support my program too well. My program stored database files in a subfolder of the users Documents folder but the first release of Windows 10 had a bug that prevented users saving documents to their own Documents or Pictures folder. Google it.
My program suddenly started displaying permission denied messages and sales hit rock bottom. The program simply wouldn’t run. also had trouble with Maverick causing the program to simply exit without even saying goodbye, it just closed.
Lack of new features takes years to kill your program but absolute failure can end it overnight.
I have been guilty however of, upon realizing that the program is severely broken early on, quickly adding a few new flash features and releasing a new upgrade to encourage people to download it and mask the real reason for the update ie. an urgent fundamental fix.

Uh oh, versions of Xojo and the plugins need to be managed as carefully as you do with your own code. That means I start developing a new version with the current version of Xojo and very very rarely change the version. I rather work on 2 different versions of my app with 2 versions of Xojo. But then there are no surprises. I learned the hard way also to include the plugins with this. For a dot version of Valentina the Valentina people had changed the base encoding, which cost me days of work.

I work from the position of attempting to achieve 100% customer satisfaction but it’s a goal I know from the beginning I will not be able achieve. You can’t please everyone. Having said that, I subscribe to the notion that if you shoot for the stars, you’ll land in the trees. If you decide to aim for 80%, you might find yourself mostly happy with 70%. If you aim for 100%, you’re more likely to hit 90%.

The Net Promoter Survey (NPS) is a simple way to measure this. You can find out more about it here. It’s based upon research done by Fred Reichheld. You can also read about it in his book, “The Ultimate Question”, which I highly recommend be read by everyone who runs or works in an organization. We do this survey constantly and use the results to help us improve.

The path to happiness in any relationship, whether it’s with your customers, your co-workers, employees, friends, spouse, kids, family, etc., is all about managing expectations. The better you do that, the happier everyone will be.

When my partner and I sold our company to a Fortune 500 company as part of the due diligence they hired an outside firm to perform a customer survey…

I was scared to death to see the results… based on our success and repeat customers we felt we were doing well… but never had an outside objective analysis…

As it turned out in most areas we were doing better than the purchasing company wanted us to do… Their reasoning is that some percentage of customers are never going to be happy and that we were probably spending too much time and money trying to make them so.

I am not sure I bought into that thinking… but it also gives some insight into how a large company looks at the issue… i.e. bottom line is the most important.

+1

When I started quite a while ago, I released freeware on Compuserve for the fun of showing what I had programmed. Then when I lost my job as a journalist, I discovered I could pay the rent with my creations. I am not selling software for the fun of it. I am coping with customer support and stuff in order to make a living.

Sure, I try constantly my best, but in the end, what counts is the cash register.