About 1999 someone from Microsoft sent me a cassette tape of a talk called “Selling Consultancy services” and the guy giving the talk threw out a question.
“We and our customers both want exactly the same thing. What is it ?”
And you could hear the audience mumbling – thinking, “we want them to pay us a lot, and they don’t want to”. Eventually the speaker put them out of their misery.
“We both want them to have an excellent experience of our technology”.
I’ve hung on to this ever since because it seems to be the basis of everything I have done in the computer industry. But if you reverse the statement it is also true. I don’t want customers who can’t have an excellent experience. Sadly some customer needs don’t fit with Microsoft products, if the customer will never be happy with SQL server, better they go to Oracle, if their requirement would make them miserable on Exchange, better they have Notes and so on. The good they do a competitor by being satisfied with their product, is less than the harm they do me by being dissatisfied with mine. But, I think we all know, there are some customers who you just can’t please and I’d rather they were hurting the competition.
I was reminded of this when I was reading someone’s explanation for returning a (new-to-market) camera. He’s not the first camera owner I’ve read where I’ve thought If “I were the camera maker, I’d pay him to go to a different brand”. And before you wonder, no I don’t feel that way about any of Microsoft customers I’ve met in the last few years.