Great Customer Experience is Free
Bruce Temkin of Forrester wrote a great post entitled My Manifesto: Great Customer Experience Is Free. Like Philip Crosby's classic Quality is Free, Bruce makes the case that you can't afford NOT to have great customer experience for your product or service.
I remember reading Crosby's book as well as Tom Peters' Thriving on Chaos in the 1980s. They both had a big impact on me in terms of how I thought about business.
Both books focus on the idea that you can't afford not to get things right the first time. Build the product right, with great quality and meeting all the specs. Delight the customer with great features and a fantastic experience in dealing with your company. If you get something wrong, handle it with grace and aplomb. Companies that do this build long-term relationships with their customers.
I remember one start-up experience I had with a Beta customer. We had really tried to build the product right the first time. We had well thought out features, good documentation, strong software quality process, and a real customer focus. We shipped our beta product out to one customer, and they were so happy with it that they offered to buy it without wating for the release version. They were so excited about the product that they took their picture holding our product and sent it back to us, thanking us for doing a good job. I guess we were solving an important problem for them.
Getting it right the first time meant that we spent less time on support and QA, less time explaining to the customer how they should be using our product, and more time selling and celebrating our wins.