If you don’t care about your customers, they can always tell.

There are companies out there who actively do not care about you. You’ve signed up for their services, expecting to receive, in good faith, what was advertised. They have taken this as an opportunity to fuck with you. This is because their interests are solely in you as a dollar sign, and not in you as a person.

I recently signed up for a streaming service here in Australia, called Presto. They’re owned by Foxtel, a cable company who have a choke-hold on most of the major content down here. You want to watch Game of Thrones? You’d better be willing to pay ’em. You want to watch Mindy Project? Cough up.

Do you not have an account with them yet? You can’t sign up in app. You’ll need to pull open a browser to register, then shut down the app, restart it and login.

When you open the app, you have to log in with your account details, and then enter a pin. This extra step is meant to prevent copyright violations. You’ll also be entering that pin each and every time you watch a single episode of anything. A single episode in a low definition stream.

Want to use their Airplay feature? Nope. It’s not compatible with the new Apple TV that’s been out since last year. Want to stream on Chrome? It crashes 4/5 times.

All of this for more than Netflix costs.

Presto/Foxtel are a prime example of a company who don’t care about who their customers are, or what they want. Their priorities are protecting their precious copyright and getting paid. Nothing else is of any importance. If you try to use their service, you need to be prepared to be treated like a dollar sign and no more than a dollar sign.

So what’s the point of this? It’s more than just a rant about a product I hate using. It’s also a pretty clear lesson about what builds loyalty for your customers, and what can give you a positive relationship with them.

I read this today from alan jones:

Think about the brands you love to hate — without exception, they are organisations which have decided it’s just too hard to keep delivering positive brand experiences in every setting, for every customer, every time.

That’s what Presto is all about. They don’t want to deliver an incredible experience for their customers. And they’re not alone in that — these companies do not focus on making people happy. Generally speaking, they focus on getting us to sign on the line which is dotted.

They’d probably call this focusing on the bottom line. I call it making excuses for being a dick. It’s not hard to find ways to care for your customers. And the simplest way to do it is to make your product work in the way your customers want it to.

If you’re a startup, that means thinking about what you do in the right way. Thinking about how the things that you build are going to show an investment in the people who buy them. If you’re not showing that you give a shit, well, you can call it an MVP all you want — we can tell you don’t / won’t / shan’t / can’t care less, and you won’t be building a positive relationship with us.

But there’s another thing to learn here. If you want to take on the big guns, if you want to challenge the giants in your industry, it’s not always about new features or faster horses.

Sometimes, it’s about looking for the tiny details that make the giants’ customers mad. The things that are fracturing their relationship. And it’s about asking how your startup can offer an alternative that will provide a positive experience.

So that’s where I’m going to leave you. Don’t treat your customers like you don’t care, because they can always tell. Do treat your customers like you give a shit, because sometimes it’s all the competitive advantage you’ll need.

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I’m a writer, a speaker, and a social media entrepreneur. Appeared and published in Business Insider, Inc.com, TIME & others.

Email: jon@jonwestenberg.com

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