Product Development and Internet Marketing

I recently wrote about the customer service I received from grocery-delivery chain FreshDirect after several deliveries arrived with broken eggs. They called me, to find out whether I had any complaints.

Well, in the spirit of fairness, I feel that I should recognize the other anonymous-but-fantastic services which touch my life, this time Tivo.

I just came home and turned on my Tivo. Here's what I saw:

Friends Season Pass Alert

On Thursday evening May 6, NBC will be airing a special hour long retrospective Friends episode followed by the series finale.

Because there episodes are back to back, if you have configured your Friends Season Pass to automatically pad extra time after each show, your DVR may not capture the series finale.

To ensure that no recordings are missed, please be sure that your Season Pass is NOT setup with 'passing'.

[complete instructions for fixing the situation]

I'm just amazed at this. I don't even have a season pass for Friends. But Tivo realizes that so many people are going to want to see the finale, and that any one of them who misses it because of a Tivo "bug" will blame them, that they take the proactive step of alerting the user to the potential problem.

Imagine if Microsoft took a similar approach.

"We've noticed that you set up an IMAP mail account in Outlook. Outlook behaves slightly differently when use use IMAP vs. the more common POP mail. Would you like to take our interactive tutorial now?"

Or Ford.

Dear Ford Owner. You may have noticed that gas prices in your region are increasing. We thought we'd let you know some simple techniques for reducing your gasoline usage and extending the life of your car..."

Or your stock broker.

John, you may have heard about the Fed raising rates last week. We'd like to explain how we believe this is likely to affect your portfolio...

What can you do to solve a customer service problem before it arises?

May 4, 2004 07:35 PM

Great post again Ari. My stock broker actually does send out letters like that -- USAA. They also send me checks at the end of every year if the number of insurance claims is less than anticipated and thus, there's loot in the insurance bucket leftover.

Posted by: Anittah on May 7, 2004 07:07 PM