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4 Ways to Make a Clean Getaway from a Failed Product

Those of you who have heard me speak about courage know that I have a tendency toward fearlessness. It’s an addiction, really, but that’s another article altogether. My point is, sometimes I don’t think about all the things that could go wrong in a given situation. I just jump. I take a leap of faith and see where I land.

When a business or organization asks me to do something, buy something, join something, whatever … sometimes – oh, all right, most of the time – I say yes. I’ve learned about some incredibly useful new apps, software solutions, and services this way. For example, I was an early adopter of UBER and now I’m almost an evangelist for their service. I didn’t know this was even a word until I stumbled on it one day and just willy-nilly signed up. Now? UBER is a critical part of my life. I’ve also done this with Muchery. And Hotel Tonight.

On the other side of the coin are the leaps of faith that created problems. Problems that allowed me to relate all too well to the Comcast customer service scenario that swept the web last month. Currently I am wrestling with a company called Verio over a product they called Nimbus. Years ago, I created an account with them, I no longer even know why. Then, realizing I didn’t need the service, I just dropped it into my pile of things that I’ve signed up for but never use. Until one day I realized I was paying for this account, with real money.

Verio, a subsidiary of NTT Communications, is a Fortune 500 company that provides everything from domain name registration, web hosting, and storage to high-tech tools for managing your business. Nimbus was a service Verio offered that was supposed to provide me with the ability to more efficiently manage web-based customer service interactions (rather than costly call center ones). Only it didn’t work. I know this because of A) personal experience and B) this internal redesign strategy document that popped up on Google when I searched “Verio Nimbus.” It’s dated May of 2009. Why no one listened to the obviously intelligent and clear-minded woman who created this document is beyond me.

Flash forward five (five!) years. I am now in my sixth month of trying the delete my Verio/Nimbus account. So far, I have tried: cancelling online, emailing support, calling support, asking to speak with a supervisor, asking my assistant to try, hiring a third part to delete the account, and now, venting on social media. (Hey, it worked with UPS!) So far, still no success. However, as a result of this experience, I am brimming with advice for Verio and anyone else who launches online solutions that don’t live up to your dreams…

Customer Service Lesson: Clean up your mess! When you stop supporting a product or service your company has put out into the world, withdrawing the product from availability is just one small portion of the steps you need to take. Here are the others:

1. Pull Your Customer List – Pull the customer list, the people who took your leap of faith with you.
2. Call/Email Your Customers – Contact the people on this list. Tell them what you’re doing and why.
3. Attempt to Cross Sell – Find out if you can migrate these customers to another product or, if not, another provider. (Comcast got stuck here.)
4. Clean Up Your Mess – Even if they don’t want anything you currently offer, these people are potential customers of future releases. So graciously thank them for giving your business a try. Cancel their payment plans. Delete their accounts. (While you’re in clean-up mode, ask IT to get that damning document off the web or at least bury it deep in the search engine results.)


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