Last year, I bought a OnePlus One phone and I fell in love with it.
Their marketing was inspired. Clean, crisp and a mantra of #NeverSettle that really resonated with me.
But "their marketing" was "marketing" in the traditional sense...a website, how they talked about themselves, and the look and feel of the product. That was all great.
About 6 months into my ownership, I got my first warning sign, downloading an update that crushed my battery life (the best part of the phone) and sent me into a bit of a tizzy. Fortunately (and maybe to OnePlus' credit), they had a strong community of people like me who were able to help address my issues (for the most part).
But their actual customer service? Basically non-existent.
I'm all in favor of leveraging your community of raving fans, but you can't completely outsource customer care to them.
Still, as an early adopter, I'm primed to accept glitches and set backs. It's part of the deal, and for the most part, the phone did its job well.
So, when I heard that the new OnePlus Two was coming out, I bought it the moment I got the invite and didn't really think about it.
Until I got the phone and discovered that there was no NFC included.
Now, maybe for many people that's not a big deal, but NFC is critical if you want to use Android Pay (think Apple Pay for Androids) and even the mere act of transferring your data from one phone to the next with minimal hassle.
I've used Google Wallet (Android Pay's father) many times and expect to many more. There will be more digital payment options in the future, not fewer, and I couldn't understand how the company could make a phone without NFC. Still, their call, but I decided to return it.
And that's where the hassles began..
Where I think OnePlus is failing now is not recognizing that the brand and their mantra of "#NeverSettle" is not just about creating a great product. It's about a great experience at every touchpoint.
I contacted customer care to get an RMA so I could return it. 4 days went by and nothing (despite a promise of 24 hours or whatever and multiple outreach attempts).
Their emails firstname.lastname@example.org would bounce back.
Finally, I had to tweet their CEO and two different OnePlus handles which got a response and told me what I needed to do.
I sent in 6 pictures of the phone (which I had used for all of 10 minutes) to show it wasn't damaged. Multiple days go by...and nothing.
I even opened up a PayPal dispute. Nothing.
My friend Jon, after hearing this story, said, "you know, Amazon has ruined all of us."
We expect the returns process to be frictionless and painless and when it is, we keep coming back...ultimately buying more.
OnePlus, though they make great phones, hasn't figured this out.
The returns process is full of friction and pain which means that I'm not going to buy phones from them anymore. Nor will I advocate that others do it.
And that's the lesson, my friends.
You can make the world's best product, but if you don't at least meet customer expectations on what the FULL experience of interacting with a company should be (think about what Amazon, Uber, etc. have done to set the standard), you're going to disappoint.
It's a tough game, but we're all playing it.