The biggest fear of jumping into social media for a small business is what to do when things go out of control?  What happens if you are not liked and people are saying bad things about you at the virtual cocktail party on the net?  Today we present a case study of Pure Digital technologies, maker of the Flip video.
Pretty much everyone knows the Flip video,  a great little video camera that is simple to use, not too expensive and gives decent video results.  We purchased one based on a recommendation from a business associate and a quick review of both CNET and Flip’s website.  Do you notice that I am not posting video with this blog?  After 1 year of use the Flip video camera is now the Flip paperweight.
We called up support and asked for help which ended up in a scripted email stating we were past the 90 day warrantee and sorry for the inconvenience.  Case closed, solved and adios!  OK then we had a WTF moment and hopped on the net to see who else had this problem….   Google returned the sad news in milliseconds.  Apparently when a product has quality issues and the solution is “oh well”  — People tend to get mad and write these days.  You know it is a bad day when someone opens up an entire blog on how  frustrated they are with your product.
We tried an experiment and friend-ed Flip video’s site on Facebook.  We were invited to share our opinion on the what we like better the Ultra or the Mino as well as uploading our happy moments recorded on a Flip video.  We responded to both invites that as much as we would like to participate, we can’t because our Flip is broken and support won’t help us.
So question for you:   If you were Flip, what would you do?
Here are some possible answers for you:
  • Open up a forum on the website to address the complaints and try to control the situation.
  • Have the responsible authority answer directly to customers with criticisms, explaining how this issue is beyond your control.
  • Request that people send in their Flip for analysis and try to use the experience to improve the product.
  • Offer a rebate on a new improved Flip video camera to those affected. –Hey!  throw in 1 year support instead of 90 days while you’re at it.
  • Delete all derogatory comments and move on ignoring the elephant in the living room.
The first four options are great and are in the spirit of good faith, invokes positive change, drives customer loyalty and demonstrates mature crisis management.   Consider the fact that if people love your brand, but have an issue with your product; there is ample opportunity to build customer loyalty by understanding them and genuinely trying to help them.  It’s not about single purchase value but rather the lifetime value of your customers. The last option is a beginner’s bury-your-head-in-the-sand tactic and separates out those companies who aren’t planning to be around in 3 years time.
So if you are wondering which route Flip Video chose, I will have to let a little bird tell you.  However I can offer you this… should you be looking for a good quality low priced video camera,  both Sony and Canon have some excellent products worth your consideration.