First published in Human Infrastructure Magazine in Oct 2017.
When something goes wrong with a product, your first stop is likely to be tech support. Those painfully expensive maintenance agreements that you pay for every year get you access to ‘world class’ support services. ORLY?
Hopefully the problems occur after you bought and deployed the product. Its common for products arrive faulty after all. Searching for a bug-free version of firmware for a given configuration, or replacing product delivered DOA, or is not the reasons for a support contract because it works
Calling the reseller or vendor sales rep is the next step and demanding that something be done.
It strikes me that this is a very expensive process for both vendor and customer.
- Handling product quality issues is a poor use of costly sales time. Sales people add no value to product or solution. Their role is to find a customer, establish product fit and handle the paperwork. This overhead should be reduced.
- Customers waste time in meeting with sales. Executives from both sides are distracted from core business of getting a failed solution working.
- Sales people are powerless. Sales can’t change anything. At best, they can monitor the process and make sure the bureacracy doesn’t fail. If your business is large or important, they may beseech senior management to intervene. Since most vendors have enormous demands on support (as they love to tell me) its unlikely that one case out of tens of thousands will get preferential treatment.
Solutions and Products Should Work
Its not an easy decision to pull the pin on a product, return it to the vendor for a refund and replace it with something else. The vendor and reseller are going to fight very hard to prevent this. The costs of returning stock, the blamestorming between vendor & reseller as to who is at fault are nothing compared to the embarrassment and shame that people incur.
The fundamental problem is that vendor time to market beats quality assurance so hat stockholders happy. The customers bear the cost of poor quality products, the reseller bears the front line costs.
If you aren’t returning the product to the vendor, nothing will ever change. Likely you will continue to hundreds of hours in meeting with vendor & reseller sales making promises that it won’t happen again.
But it will. Here is what one customer told me today “Right now I’m looking at hitting a bug every 2 months per product line…. and we run at most 40 network devices in our datacenters”. This has been happening for more than a year.
Thats not right.