6 Lessons from Samsung to Lose Customers

In the XaaS and managed services world, we don’t make money from winning customers… we make money from keeping customers. So when I see a company doing everything it can to alienate its loyal customers, I look at what lessons can be learned so that MSPs, vendors and distis don’t fall into the same trap. Case in point… Samsung.

I’ve been a loyal Samsung customer for over 10 years. I’ve owned the S4, S7 Edge, S9 Plus, Note S20, S23 Ultra phones, as well as the Galaxy 4 and Galaxy 6 watches. I’ve been a fan of their devices and recommended them to friends. I didn’t look at other brands – I just bought their phone when I needed a new one. So you have to go out of your way to turn me off them as a brand.

Well congratulations Samsung… you have guaranteed that I will be looking at alternatives when it’s time to buy my next phone.

So here are 6 lessons from Samsung on things on what NOT to do if you want to keep your customers:

1. Blame the problem on the customer

When I ordered my watch, it came with a white wrist band. When I asked if I could swap it for a black one, I was told a) I should have ordered a black one (even though I wasn’t given the option), b) I shouldn’t have opened the packaging (even though I couldn’t have known the colour until I opened it) and c) I should have contacted them immediately (even though I tried and no one responded)

Contrast that with waterfilterforfridge.com.au where I made a mistake and ordered the wrong water filter. Their response was “no problem… mistakes happen… we’ll send you the details to return it, and you can order the right one.” Guess where I’ll be buying my water filters from now on.

2. Make it difficult for customers to complain

When I tried to contact Samsung by phone, I was on hold for 40 minutes before they answered. The email address they gave me for complaints bounced. The website form for complaints was difficult to find, and did not provide the option to follow up when I hadn’t heard back. A visit to the store resulted in me getting a QR code for yet another web site to fill out another form.

Contrast that with Amazon.com, who make it really easy to return a product and get a refund. They’re not always the cheapest, but I consistently buy from them because I like having the security of knowing that I can return something if it’s not what I expected.

3. Do not offer a gesture of goodwill

When I suggested to the store manager that he could in fact just give me a free watch band (from their demo stock) as a gesture of goodwill for my years of loyalty he said no, even though the cost to the company would be around $10. It reminds me of Optus refusing to compensate customers for the outage last year.

Compare that to Anason (a restaurant in Barangaroo) where the waiter waived the cost of the bottle of wine because their service was slow that night, without us even saying anything. That was 8 years ago, and I still feel a positive emotion towards that place whenever we walk by it.

4. Ignore complaints

I emailed Samsung, I phoned Samsung, I filled out a web form on the Samsung site. I did not receive a response. I went into the Samsung store, and was told “sorry I can’t do anything… you’ll need to contact them via (yet another) website”. I would speak to a Samsung employee, only to be told that’s not their department.

Contrast that with Aussie Broadband who responded to a request about a conflict between an Optusnet email address and their servers. Rather than telling us to contact Optus, they escalated it to their own senior technical team, and found a solution. Their philosophy of “keep the customer happy and they won’t leave” is why they are able to keep customers without contracts.

5. Don’t empower staff to propose solutions

Everyone I spoke to would tell me how much they cared, and how much they understood, and how they wanted to help…. but they were not able to. Not one person would take responsibility to act. Not one person had the power or initiative to propose an alternative suggestion. Even the store manager didn’t have the authority to offer any kind of solution.

Contrast that with the Foxtel Retention team. While dealing with their 1st level staff can be very frustrating, if you say you’re going to cancel, they put you through to the senior team who have more freedom on what they can and can’t do, and take the initiative to suggest a solution on the spot.

6. Keep your internal processes complex and hidden

Samsung keep treat their In-store staff and their on-line team as two completely separate departments, with their own policies procedures, and they do not talk to each other. So because I ordered my watch from a physical store, and it was delivered by the online store, neither would take ownership of any issues.

Contrast that with Logitech, who seem to know exactly what products I own, the environment I’m running, when I last called and how it was resolved, and are therefore able to provide a quick solution to my problem rather than asking me the same questions over and over again, or bouncing me to another department.


Stuff goes wrong. It may be the customer’s fault, or it may be our mistake. How you handle it will determine whether customers stay with you or not. In a recurring revenue world, that is the difference between success and failure.