Jawbone Hits a Customer Service Home Run

Very shortly my “Product Success Deck” cards will be out and two of the most important cards are #12: “It’s not that problems won’t arise, it’s how you rise to the occasion when they do” and #13: “Support is brand and relationship building not a cost center.”

Clearly from what happened this week, these two principles are in Jawbone‘s DNA.

Here’s what happened:  A few weeks ago Jawbone released the Up wristband to lots of coverage and some mixed reviews but in the intervening weeks it turned out that there were some problems with the product: caps fell off, the product didn’t always sync and the battery life wasn’t great.  None of these were fatal problems but for a new product from a company that was in the process of building a consumer brand, these issues (along with some earlier problems on a different product) could have chipped away at its reputation.

So yesterday, Jawbone issued what The New York Times’ David Pogue called an “extraordinary statement:”

“We recognize that this product has not yet lived up to everyone’s expectations – including our own – so we’re taking action,” it said. “For whatever reason, or no reason at all, you can receive a full refund for UP. This is true even if you decide to keep your UP band. We are so committed to this product that we’re offering you the option of using it for free.”

Pogue concludes his article by saying, “if there were ever a way to go about recovering goodwill and standing by your customers, this is it.”

I have to wonder if the Jawbone executives had studied what Intel went through in 1994-95 with the Pentium flaw because clearly they learned the lesson of that incident.  If you are making consumer products and are not familiar with this part of computing history, pickup a copy of Andy Grove’s “Only the Paranoid Survive” this weekend–and read it.