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.: February 2007 --> Yahoo abuses customer trust

Yahoo abuses customer trust

» More on corporate abuses of trust: Reevaluating our relationship.

While I was certainly glad to give you all the benefit of the doubt on the whole Flickr account merge issue, it didn’t help when you betrayed that trust by trying to trick me into a premium email service by withholding information at the precise moment I would need it in order to make an informed choice. You were this close to having a customer who was solidly baffled by the group of folks who question their ability to trust Yahoo with their Flickr accounts; instead, you managed to make me question whether it’s reasonable to trust you as a company.

How hard—seriously—is it to look at your corporation's actions from the customer's point of view?

 [ 02.09.07 ]


I think it can be hard, honestly, because of human nature. "We'll fix it right after we launch it." or "I'm not gonna be the reason that my friend in charge of revenue for Yahoo Mail misses her revenue targets." or "The paid service really is better, let's not clutter the page with too much explanation."

And there are rewards built in to that -- whoever wrote that page Jason linked to probably showed it to the person in the next cube over. "Oh that's great, very plain English -- not like the geeky jargon on Hotmail." So they can look at each other and say "yep, we're more customer-focused than anybody else".

It's *really* hard to get outside of one's own mindset, especially on a deadline.

I agree, it's hard to get out of one's own (or group's own) mindset.

It's also just silly not to handle this better--this group of users is not only not likely to be suckered by such nonsense, but likely to notice and take offense. I haven't merged my account yet, but if it had been me I would have flipped.

Like it or not, this is why (at a very coarse level) Y! bought ludicorp, and delicious (insert your own "dots"),, etc. They need to get money out. But this kind of ploy is silly.

Having said all of that, I refuse to attribute this "squeeze" to the imported group of original ludicorp/flickr staff. Fundamental attribution error is not my gig. In these circumstances I think of a quote attributed to Napoleon, "Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence."

How hard—seriously—is it to look at your corporation's actions from the customer's point of view? Seriously - it is nearly impossible, one's entire identity is bound in being "me", whether politician or corporate functionary or courtroom worker..... did you ever in you entire life meet anyone who can really put themselves in another's shoes?? ever? not an american trait, for sure, but not a human trait either, anywhwere. silly to expect it, until a bit more chaos goes on in the world, then we will learn to do it because it will be manifestly necessary for survival.

Often, companies' business models are based around their customers not having a point of view about certain issues, e.g., selling convenience to people who don't care about quality.

So, in this case, you might consider if Yahoo! is, on some fundamental level, a business based customers who make impulsive or sheep-like choices about the web services they use. (And, also based on the customers' complacency once they've made those choices.)

Someone who makes informed and/or individualistic choices about the web services they use, and who is willing and able to switch services when they are less than satisfied, is maybe not someone Yahoo is oriented to serving better—perhaps they are not the customer in whom Yahoo! is looking to see itself better.

I think it is possible to *try* to put yourselves in another's shoes, but without knowing them intimately, very difficult to do so successfully.

However, that's on an "individual-to-individual" level. I don't think it should be too hard for a corporation to ask around and find out what their customers do and don't like - in this case, for Yahoo! to poll "old-school Flickr users" (duh, there was a REASON I never merged my accounts, and I didn't ever, ever want to) or people who use Yahoo! email, or simply to, duh, engage in full disclosure, rather than blatantly trying to trick people into signing up for the paid service. Or how about simply not ever expiring the free accounts, just not allowing them as much storage space? Etc etc. Duh duh duh.

All it takes is either: actually being customer-service minded, or actually asking.

I think the whole Yahoo/Flickr forced merger has the potential to be seriously damaging to Flickr (Yahoo will no doubt trundle along as ever) The handling of it has been crass and must be hugely embarassing to the original Flickr staff who have been reassuring people all along that their experience of flickr will not change.

It seems to me that the unique thing about flickr, before Y!, was the way it held on to the early adopters/geeks while still catering for the mainstream market.

While there are people for whom being ahead of the pack is itself enough reward, the flickr interface has allowed all of us to rattle along quite amicably together. With Y! involved - and making its presence felt - many now believe this is now at an end.



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