Recently, I have received a lot of mails from a customer of mine. We’ll call her Sally. Sally works for a particular state government agency and has a function coming up, which she bought Bingo Card Creator for. Sally has also sent me roughly one mail a day for the last week. Sometimes the mails were feature requests, sometimes the mails were generic questions about bingo, sometimes the mails were just about how happy the folks at her function would be.
Now, I’ll admit, I am a weak person and was tempted to ask Sally to be a bit less enthusiastic after the first couple of emails. But I decided to go ahead and practice what I preached. I encouraged Sally to continue sending any feedback she had, and got busily to work on her feature requests, most of which were on the “To be implemented sometime when I’m very, very bored” list. Well, it turns out after actually sitting down and coding them (took about 4 hours total) they were a lot less of an excercize in frustration than I thought they would be and they really, seriously improve the program. So yay for me.
So I sent Sally a sneak-peak of the new and improved Bingo Card Creator 1.04 (I’ll probably release it for real next week after I get a few more word lists banged out). And Sally was happy. Like, deliriously happy. Like, so happy she is recommending Bingo Card Creator to everyone she knows happy. And that makes me happy.
What makes me particularly happy is that it turns out “everyone she knows” includes the staff of some institutions Sally’s government agency oversees. Think, say, fire departments, except she’s not in the State Bureau for Managing Fire Departments. But, for the sake of scale, you can assume there is one of these institutions per fire department.
Do you know how many fire departments are in a mid-sized American state? Well, it turns out there is a publicly available list of them. The list runs to 100 pages, single-spaced. And Sally is busily working her email lists and telling people at her conferences that I’m the best thing for fire departments since the dalmation. Given that I have sold a grand total of, hmm, 15 copies of Bingo Card Creator so far, I think this is probably going to be a rather noticable impact on ye olde bottom line.
So, my takeaway bit of advice is: before you tell a customer “no” out of laziness, are you sure you’re not turning away your very own Sally?