Saturday, December 17, 2011

Love and Hate

As we live though this exciting, and turbulent, time in technology, I've started to notice the building tide of emotions towards companies and their products. The new wave elicits more "love" comments than "like", while we speak about the older ones, many previously loved, more likely being "hated" than "disliked". The business value of being loved versus hated is much greater than being liked versus disliked. This wider gap breaks down the barriers to change more quickly, leaving less time to react to market changes, perhaps fatally.

There is no better example of this than Apple. Talk about the iPad and you'll hear the word "love", loud and often. You will see smiles on the faces of people using them.  Watch someone begin using Siri on their new iPhone 4S.  Listen to them say "thank you" to their phone and the very personal connection they develop with it.  Love has powered them to the top of U.S. companies. Not the tablet or the phone. Love.

On the other side you find Research in Motion (RIM) and their previously loved Blackberry phones. A few years following the start of serious competition, that "love" has increasingly turned to "hate". I haven't talked to a single person that has replaced their old Blackberry with a new one, except when their company provided them with no other choice. Of course that just helps build the "hate".  RIM is not tumbling because of products missteps or product delays. The reason is simple. Hate.

Telephone, wireless and cable companies are on many people's hate list, mostly for are arrogant customer service practices and perceived price gauging. Given a viable alternative they will abandon you in a heartbeat. That might take them a quick phone call or requiring them waiting for a two-year contract to expire.  But a couple years is a very short time to move someone off their emotional cliff.

Perhaps the most paradoxical example are Windows PCs in corporations. IT staffs love Microsoft products. It's what they know well. But many users hate their desktops and laptops. They're slow, restrictive and unreliable. How long can that last? With the advent of tablets, smartphones and buying services, probably less time than you think.

The bottom line is to take stock of people's emotions regarding your product or service.

If they hate you, you're in big trouble.

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