Amazon emailed me last week. A product manager for S3 wanted to talk about our use of their services. (Amazon S3 provides the storage for all the images and video on Posterous). It seemed like a great opportunity to talk to someone within Amazon about issues we've been having, and features we'd like to see.
Once we got on the phone, it was clear that this person didn't want to help us at all. He just wanted to pick our brains to get ideas on how to increase sales and keep customers. I have no desire to give my time or my thoughts to Amazon so they can grow their business. And I told this directly to the person on the phone.
Why not? Because they don't have great support. Amazon doesn't care about me, so I don't care about them. They have a good product, so they have me as a user. They don't have good support, so they don't have me as a fan.
When we have issues, they don't want to help us. They force us to pay for support, which costs $500 per month, or 20% of your bill, whichever is greater. As we grow it becomes prohibitive to pay this. Instead of taking care of its largest customers, Amazon penalizes them. We're incentivized to leave.
I told the person on the phone that what Amazon needs to do to keep Posterous as a customer is offer better support. We need better developer tools to analyze our usage. We need better tools to stop abuse. We need a direct contact within Amazon for when we see issues. The Amazon rep didn't seem to care, he was too focused on pricing.
The other vendor we use to run Posterous is Rackspace. They take the opposite approach, and offer the best customer support imaginable. They go out of their way to make us happy. Because of their great support, I am a fan of theirs. I intro YC companies to Rackspace all the time. If Rackspace needs my help, I'm there for them. I wish there was more I could do to help them, because they are awesome.
There are plenty of companies that I would fight for. Costco, American Express, Rackspace, and many other companies I recommend endlessly, even though I don't get a penny from them. I do it because I love these companies, because they take care of me. They offer great customer service. And I am a fan.
To build a successful company, you need more than just a lot of users. You need fans who genuinely want you to succeed. And to do that, you need to give them a great product and great support.