Monday, March 4, 2013

Earning vs. Buying Loyalty

Earning loyalty vs. Buying loyalty, which is better?  To me the answer is pretty obvious, but there are still many who don't get it.

Consider a soldier, hunkered in a fox hole as artillery explodes all around and gunfire cracks overhead.  His only chance for survival is the other man in the fox hole with him...the other set of eyes that watches his back.  Who would the soldier rather have in that fox hole with him?  A mercenary who is paid to be there, whose only relationship with the soldier is financial, or a buddy who has been with him through numerous battles, through thick and thin, whose relationship is based on mutual respect?

Consider businesses who enact "customer loyalty programs" which are little more than veiled marketing campaigns or coupons that attempt to buy loyalty.  Or the business who requires customers to sign multi-year contracts in order to hold loyalty ransom, while at the same time neglecting the foundation of service and customer relationships.  What is going to happen to these customers when they find a better deal, or complete their contract? 

They'll leave.  Deals are fickle.  They don't earn loyalty.  They just buy it momentarily until a different deal comes along. 

What would happen if companies, instead of looking for the next fickle deal themselves, earned loyalty by offering good products and services, and by treating their customers and employees well?  What would happen if respect was earned instead of bought?  What would happen if people looked at each other as people instead of numbers? Where would we be today?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Phone Parts: Costs and Availability

I thought it might be good to talk a bit about parts costs and parts availability in the phone and tablet world.  No, I won't be going over wholesale prices or anything like that.  Rather, I wanted to take a moment to answer a couple of the more common questions that have come up recently.

Q:  Why do certain models cost so much to repair?
A:  There are several reasons that one model may cost more than another to repair.  As an example lets use a common repair, a broken screen, on two comparable and popular phones: the Apple iPhone 4S and the Samsung Galaxy S3.  Both are excellent smartphones.  Both are feature rich and colorful.  So, why does the Samsung Galaxy S3 screen repair cost three times as much as the iPhone 4S? 
First, volume.  While both are very popular phones, consider how many iPhones have been sold vs. any other make or model.  That level of popularity and market share tends to drive the demand for parts.  And volume drives down price. 
Second, technology.  Samsung is very proud of their Super AMOLED screens.  As they should be.  However, the combination of technology and screen real estate does come with a cost.

Q:  What about repairing my ZTE, Pantech, Casio phone or Coby, Pandigital, etc... tablet?
A:  Well the answer is a definite "maybe".  With certain makes or models it comes down to a matter of parts availability.  Similar to the previous example, volume drives down prices, in this case volume determines parts availability.  Certain manufacturers cater to a specific niche market:  Casio to the ruggedized phone market, ZTE and Pantech to the value phone market;  Coby, Pandigital, et al, to the value or entry-level tablet market.  It is a matter of volume vs. benefit, supply and demand.  Parts manufacturers devote their focus to those models that have the demand for the parts.  So, while a full catalog of parts may be available for Apple, Motorola, Samsung, and HTC devices, the lesser known brands such as ZTE, Pantech, Coby, etc... may only have one or two parts available.