My colleague, Graeme Codrington, beat me to the punch with his post last week (Incomprehensible business decisions that alienate customers) about Constant Contact and their decision to put Bantam Live on ice for a period of time (a long period of time) while they re-developed it.
Here’s some background to the story. When Constant Contact purchased Bantam Live (apparently for $15 000 000) we recieved an e-mail to let us know. In the mail (16 Feb 2011) was the following…
Effective immediately, you and your organization will be able to use Bantam Live free of charge as we determine new plans for integrating the Bantam Live technology into Constant Contact. We’ll soon have more to say about product plans as we integrate with Constant Contact, so stay tuned. Rest assured you will continue to receive the same prompt, quality support as you always have.
The first and last sentences had us smiling. Bantam Live had truly revolutionised how our very virtual company did business. We’d never had such a great platform to use, that for the first time had us talking, sharing and tracking clients and deals like Bantam had.
But then on 4 April we recieved this:
As part of that transition process, our plans call for a phasing out of the current version of Bantam Live by July 1, 2011. Your account, of course, will remain free to use until then. And because you’re a valued customer, we intend to provide you with a significant discount when we release the new product in the first half of 2012.
In the days and weeks ahead, you’ll need to export all the data from your Bantam Live account. But don’t worry.
We apologize for this short-term inconvenience. And we look forward to delivering a powerful new product set next year to help you connect with your customers and grow your business.
There’s no other response to this than WTF!!!!!
Bantam Live had become a central part of how we did business. We were being told that the new handlers (Constant Contact) were putting this platform on ice for 12 months while they integrated it into their system. And that we shouldn’t worry. And that we could look forward to a substantial discount when they re-launch.
As Graeme asked in his post:
Are they joking? Or are they just insane?
And we’re not the only ones who are feeling the pain. Rich Mulholland put a great post together, ‘How to lose customers and Infuriate people – The danger of the cloud‘. And you can search BantamLive on Twitter to hear the pain and anger of others like us.
The only reason I’ve been able to work out that Constant Contact has done this is that they have around 400 000 customers and Bantam Live had just a few hundred. I’m sure they could have integrated the two systems without taking Bantam Live offline, but when they balanced the needs of just a few hundred with their current database of 400 000, I guess the reputational risk and fallout that may happen, was negligible for them. Hence the decision they’ve made. I’m guessing it’s a money decision. Cheaper to integrate offline than online.
Of course the story isn’t over. Here are things to watch for in the next 12 months:
- Will the noise generated by a few hundred be a bigger risk than Constant Contact anticipated? (personally I hope so)
- Will Constant Contact lose clients because of their clearly ‘We don’t care attitude’? (personally I hope so)
- Will competitors to Bantam Live be able to integrate what made Bantam Live amazing and therefore step into their space? (I’m really hoping so. They’ve got 12 months to get it right)
- Will TomorrowToday be able to back the right horse in the next month or so and find another amazing platform? (my jobs on the line)