Not one to normally publically gripe on a vendor, but a recent customer experience with an online purchase is a great example of why organizations can't ignore data management investments.

I have been a regular user of a note taking app for several years. All my dicussions with clients, vendors, and even notes from conferences wind up here. I put in pictures, screen shots, upload presentations, and capture web pages. So, it isn't a surprise that this note taking vendor wants to move me up intp a premium version. And, for $50 a year, it's not a big deal for me to do even if it just means I'm paying for more space rather than using all the features in the premium package.

So, this morning, I click the upgrade button and viola! My order is taken and shows up in my iTunes account order history.

As this app is web, desktop, and device based and the vendor is born out of the app age, the expectation is that my account status should just automatically convert. I mean, every other business app I have does this. Why shouldn't this one?

As it turns out, my purchased premium service is no where to be found. To get immediate support, as only offered in premium service, you need to be able to log in as a premium customer. So, instead of an easy and quick fix, I spend over an hour trying to get answers through a support site that shows the issue but an answer that doesn't work. I also see that this is an issue going back over a year. I try entering in my issue through "contact us" only to find that I get routed back to the support forum and can't even log a ticket. I find an obscure post where the vendor's Twitter handle for support is listed and fire off a frustrated Tweet (which goes out to my followers as well which I'm assuming is not something this vendor would prefer).

So let's break down the data management issue:

1) data from the purchase fails to trigger the appropriate setting updates

2) data (communications)n can't be collected from challenged customers

3) data (information) is not available in the support forum

4) data to create a support ticket for a new premium customer is caught outside the paywall

5) dissatisfaction data is broadcast across the Twittersphere due to lack of capture and poor support processes

Let's put this into revenue terms.

In the first 60 minutes, $50 per user is in jeopardy. Let's assume that there are 750K converters, 25% experience issues, 30% of those are individual account holders (non-corporate accounts). That equates to 56,250 high abandonment users (and premium users at that) representing about $2.8M in potential revenue loss.

Put this in context of a new revenue stream that in the past year generated about $10M (impressive), and you realize how much more impressive this could have been. Also, take into account the negative force of user frustration that could even lead to switching, and what are you doing to continued revenue growth?

Great products get you into the market. Execution is what makes and breaks success. Bad customer experience due to data management failures can be the hidden poison pill in your operations.

(About the author: Michele Goetz is an analyst with Forrester Research)

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