Friday, November 21, 2014

It's yours now - here's my laptop, my keys, and my VistaPrint designs

With Millennials (defined as people born between 1980 and 1999) changing companies often, many service-based organizations find it's better to build a relationship with the individual than the company.  Every time I call Discover Card, for example, they thank me for being a member since 1997.

Businesses find that by establishing relationships with the individual, they earn a recommendation when that individual changes companies and their new employer has a business need.

VistaPrint, the online service that caters to the small businesses' and individuals' needs, has followed suit, establishing the relationship with an individual.  But there's a use case they didn't cover.

I'm leaving my primary employer soon, and I'm making preparations.  I'm also a volunteer for a small club of an international nonprofit organization called Toastmasters International that's connected to that employer.  When we needed to be more competitive with other Toastmasters clubs in the area, I developed some evaluation forms and secret ballot forms to use in our weekly meetings to evaluate the speakers.  I had used VistaPrint for my needs before, so I already had an account, and I was collecting bids.  The only way I could get a bid from VistaPrint was to walk through it, so on my personal account I drafted what I thought the form should look like.

The draft became a proof.

The proof was shopped around to other local printing companies that couldn't beat VistaPrint's rates, at least for a small "trial run" order.  The club liked it and started using them every meeting.

I started ordering those products regularly.  Prices may have gone up since I did the original bid, but I don't really pay attention to the price.  At least I don't have to recreate the design.

Remember how I said marketing to the individual means that individual will recommend them to their next employer?  Good.  What happens, though, to that individual's past designs?  Well, VistaPrint has informed me that those stay with the individual.  What if I want to leave those behind with Toastmasters so they can continue giving VistaPrint business?  Well, Shantel at VistaPrint customer service said I can do this one of three ways:
  • I can transfer my whole account, personal and business designs, over to my successor, giving them my password, and delete my personal information from the account.  ...but I would lose access to the personal business cards I created.  This also defeats the purpose of marketing to the individuals of an organization, since now I would have to create a new login for my personal orders and upload those somewhere else.
  • I can authorize my successor to phone in an order for my design, and give them my design number.  VistaPrint would then charge my account (which sounds like it's my credit card number -- I love Toastmasters but I'd prefer they use their own money, not mine).
  • I can recreate all of my designs in a brand new account that will belong to my Toastmasters club.
Okay VistaPrint product managers, think about this.  Think carefully.  If the design has to be recreated, you lose your "stickiness."  They can't reorder more of the same design number, so my organization will need to recreate the design, and if they do that, they might as well shop it around to find a better deal based on the quantities they now need.  Is that what you want?

My advice for any SaaS product manager is to consider this when building business relationships based on individual contact points.  It's an easy use case to miss, but also an easy one to fix, and very lucrative.  As I said at the beginning, we Millennials tend to move around a lot, and with our move, we carry our endorsements.