Whether your app is next Uber for X or you're an in-demand plumber, you're in the business of solving problems. Your success rides on your acute understanding of people's pain points and offering a solution. You must transform their frustration into pure happiness. Without customer happiness, your business will not thrive.
Jason Fried, the founder and CEO of Basecamp, so strongly believes in ensuring his customers are happy that he's making an unusual move in 2017. This year, Fried will personally pay back every customer who requests a refund. On the Basecamp blog, he explains why he's decided to deduct all refunds from his own paycheck.
It's not that Basecamp is a struggling company that can't afford to cover refunds. Anything but. Basecamp is fantastically successful. With a small team, low operating costs, and thousands of new customers each week, the company generates millions in revenue each year.
The reason Fried wants to pay for the refunds himself is because he considers it his personal responsibility to deliver happiness to customers. "If a customer is unhappy with Basecamp to the point where they request a refund, it should be my penalty," he writes on Signal v. Noise. "We didn't make them happy, and, as co-founder and CEO, ultimately that's my responsibility. So it should be on me."
Fried says Basecamp is still figuring out how to implement this logistically, and it's not a forever thing. It's an experiment for 2017 to see how it goes. Around this time next year, hopefully Fried will share how much he ended up refunding customers.
If anything, Fried's announcement reinforces that any successful business must prioritize customer retention. If you're bleeding customers, it's time for something (or a for a lot of things) to change.
One commenter pointed out this could be an eye-opening exercise for any CEO, especially for large service providers such as AT&T or Verizon. "I'd bet there would be big changes really fast if a CEO saw they were getting dinged a few thousand a week because of customer refunds," Tris Hussey wrote. "I'm betting they would find solutions to customer complaints."