Some feel that the blog has been too quiet following the recent AIR Instrument Expansion Pack (IEP) issues. For those who think I haven’t been my usual gobby self on this one, forgive me, death has the uncanny knack of reordering one’s priorities and without going into detail, last week was one of the darkest weeks for my wife and I. Thank you for all your supportive messages in the last days, they have meant a great deal.
Some felt my interview with Jennifer from inMusic gave her an easy time. If some hoped for a Frost Nixon moment, I’m sorry you didn’t get your pound of flesh, but as a team we feel our job is to try and build bridges for long term influential relationships. This approach makes a less entertaining interview, but we believe it helps to create a lasting and fruitful dialogue. If I thought the best strategy was to have an audio fist fight on the podcast then I’m not one for shying away if that’s what it takes. I may have misjudged this one, I think not, but only time will tell.
However, now I’ve had a chance to digest both community concerns and also listen to the response from inMusic, here are my own thoughts. If I were running AIR right now then this is what I would do.
- You Can Never Over-Communicate
The first thing I would do is communicate directly (by email in the first instance) and then on their web site and social media channels explaining what has happened and how they intend to fix it. When it comes to these kind of issues silence is not golden, it allows people to think the worse, then take to social media (which makes things look bigger than they usually are) and in the absence of brand communication turn an issue into a crisis.
- Be Honest
When Propellerheads did a ‘pay what you want for Reason 6’ campaign it went a little like the IEP launch. Whatever happened and whoever got it wrong, the Propellerhead Software CEO Ernst Nathorst-Böös wrote a candid letter taking full responsibility for the problems, it started with the line “we screwed up” You can read the entire letter here. What that letter did both for Ernst and Propellerheads was create huge respect from their customers, their peers and the media. There’s an old saying “I can deal with anything as long as it’s the truth”, people appreciate honesty. I do feel the pain for inMusic, relying on old customer data migration from a third party and then relying on a third party to deliver a huge software package - of course there were going to be issues, if there hadn’t been that would have been a miracle, however in the final analysis the buck does stop with inMusic, sadly saying sorry in corporate circles is the exception not the rule - so be exceptional!
- Fix It Once
Some of you are going to hate this, you’re nearly 2 weeks in and in some cases $300 down. However, a quick fix that breaks again may stop some angry customers for a few days, but I think a lasting and tested fix is what is needed, imagine it all going wrong again? Fixing it right is the answer, even if that means you have to wait a little longer.
- Make Sure It Doesn’t Happen Again
They say a fool is not someone who makes a mistake, but someone who keeps making the same mistakes. All businesses have moments like this (Pro Tools 10 pricing, iPhone aerials to name two) and the best thing that can be done is to use it to make the business stronger, ignoring it is not an option.
My Dad has a great expression “reputation is tomorrow’s profit” - customer trust is dented by situations like this, but with the right action a brand has the possibility of restoring customer faith - it’s not always easy, but it’s not impossible.
I’m sad to see the AIR instruments and their reputation damaged by this situation, but I think AIR is worth fighting for. We worked hard to build a loyal community around the AIR instruments, we don’t work for inMusic so ultimately their future is not in our hands, but we will do all we can to make sure they have one.