I was quite excited to find a new issue of Inc. magazine in my mailbox (a regular snailmail one) earlier this week. The reason for my excitement was simple – this month Inc. published their annual Inc. 500 List.
I have to admit, I’m a big fan of Inc. I like everything about it: interesting articles, excellent storytelling, good style, not over-saturated with ads. But what’s most important for me – it’s very inspirational.
Every time you find at least several stories that make you think: “Wow, these guys are amazing! If they were able to achieve such spectacular results, so can we. What can I learn from this story and apply to our business?”
Of course, the first thing I did when I got my hands on the magazine – I’ve opened the 500 List foldout to look for any familiar names. I always enjoy seeing our customers’ names there secretly hoping that our product has contributed to the company’s success.
And really, it should not have be a surprise to me. These guys have earned it and I hope they’re not going to kill me for spilling the beans, because I’m going to tell everyone their secret.
Two words: “Great service”.
Here is a little story that every startup must take as an example of what their support should be.
We’ve been working with FastSpring for a few years now and of course, like with any other software provider we would have little glitches here and there that FastSpring would promptly fix.
Then sometime in June, FastSpring made some changes to the way how they pay their vendors, and honestly they screwed up. We would receive payments later than normal or we would get a different amount from what was confirmed earlier and then receive an adjustment the next day. It wasn’t the end of the world, but it was a mess, so I complained. I sent an email describing the situation at 11.03am and at 11.30am I already got a response from Jason Foodman, FastSpring’s’ co-founder.
He apologized and assured me that we will be switched to the old payment model and compensated for our troubles and differences in payments. And then he delivered. Everything was fixed. We’ve never had any issues since.
Later I found out that Jason was on vacation at that time and he found an internet café to deal with this issue immediately. That’s what I call “Customer-centric” service and support.
Since then we got rid of our second payment processor and rely exclusively on FastSpring right now.
I guess that the lesson for the vendors is clear – if you want to have loyal clients for life, then you have to not only say that you care about your customers, but really mean it by delivering more than they expect.
However there is a lesson for the companies looking for a reliable vendor or partner in this story too. Don’t judge a book only by its cover. Everyone looks good in a sunny weather. Wait until it gets really messy. Only then you’ll be able to find out who can count on.
Trust me: every company makes mistakes. But you want to stick with those who can fix them quickly and make you happy in the end.