Remote Desktop Solutions Hell hath reared it’s ugly head.
On January 21, 2014, LogMeIn shocked the remote access world by abruptly and uncaringly cancelling it’s free LogMeIn service, giving users a mere 7 days to upgrade to a paid account or have the service disabled. I’ve been using LogMeIn for many years, and I was quite dismayed by their handling of the transition. In fact, I was so disgusted by their apparent disdain for their own customers and potential future paid client base that I immediately removed it from the half dozen PC’s I had it installed on and switched to Google Chrome Remote Desktop. I don’t love Chrome Remote Desktop the way I loved LogMeIn, but I sure wasn’t going to give LogMeIn a penny of my money, not now and more importantly, not ever.
The damage that LogMeIn did to their reputation will be with them for a long time to come. This has very little to do with the fact that people used their system for free and never converted to paying customers and has a whole lot to do with the perception of being rejected that left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouth’s. The fact that I never paid is not my fault – it is their fault. It’s their inability to market to me and convince me to upgrade.
LogMeIn, in fact, has never really marketed to me, so I assume all of the other free users weren’t marketed to either. No emails, no newsletter, nothing. They had a blog, but I knew nothing about it. You’d think that in this day and age every company would be auto-blasting their blog posts to their email list. As a free customer, I was certainly on their list. Nope, they did nothing to market the idea to me that I should be paying. Originally, they allowed you to have an unlimited number of PC’s on your account, then in March 2013 they did a very similar thing, abruptly telling customers “oh, yeah, by the way, if you have more than 10 PC’s on your account, as of such-and-such date you’ll only be able to see the first 10 based on alphabetically sorting the names”. I didn’t like it when they did that, but only having six PC’s on my account I thought I was safe.
No, LogMeIn made a common and egregious error: they imagined themselves to be so awesome, that everybody would feel the same way and just magically open their wallets and give them money. But it didn’t happen. Nothing happened. I just had my account, like many others, and about 3 or 4 times a year I’d need to log in to one of my home computers from work or one of my work computers from home. Based on my usage patterns, I thought free was a pretty acceptable deal. I wouldn’t have paid for a service I so seldom use. I would have found some other way to do it. But once again, and I can’t re-iterate this enough: as a marketing consultant I understand a simple concept which LogMeIn, in all their corporate might, has forgotten.
Call To Action.
They never asked! They never sent out an email and said, “Hey Jerry, we’ve noticed you are using our service for free, and even though you don’t use it very often, we think you should at least pay for two PC’s and will give you the other 8 free! Something like that might have worked. Maybe not the first time, or the second time, but eventually…
There is a service called RadioGuestList.com which sends me emails nearly every day with free offers to submit to appear on various radio shows and podcasts. The service asks for donations, but it’s free for subscribers. They make money by selling promotional slots to people who put themselves out there as experts in various fields wanting to be interviewed. They also charge the radio stations and podcast operators something to promote their shows. At least once a month I get an email from them asking me to voluntarily donate even as little as $5.00 per month to help them keep the service alive. Now, I will admit that as of the writing of this post I have not taken them up on that call to action, and here is why: I have not used their service. I have never submitted to be interviewed on any shows. I’ve never been on any shows that they promote, and so therefore, I don’t feel I should be paying. What I do with the emails is file them away. One of these days I’m going to spend a whole day submitting to shows to be interviewed. When I do that, and I find that these work for me, I would most definitely consider giving them a donation. In fact, I would feel guilty if I didn’t. I paid for my WinZip license for much the same reason. At first, I didn’t use it all that much, but then I came to love it and felt the nag screen was correct in constantly nagging me and I paid. That was 10 years ago. But, I can tell you that if I only opened 3 or 4 zip files per year, I’d live with the nag screen.
So LogMeIn must exist in a bubble. They have stated publicly that they were a great disruptor and took over a large market segment by offering their services free for a decade. I agree with that. I don’t agree that they should just lure people into a trap and then slam the gate shut the way they did.
But enough complaining. I uninstalled LogMeIn from ALL of my computers and will never use it again, even if they call me on the phone and apologize for their stupidity personally. Why should I? They made another mistake: they assumed there wasn’t any viable alternatives. And they were wrong.
There are free customers that have switched to a different paid service, because they are insulted by the way LogMeIn handled this Remote Desktop Solutions coop.
There are paid customers that bailed! Paid Customers have moved to other services because they did not like the disdain that LogMeIn showed for their Remote Desktop Solutions customers!
There are possibly millions of free customers (no official numbers were released by LogMeIn that I have been able to find but millions is probably correct) that could easily have been converted to paid customers that will never be paid customers. It’s like, LogMeIn just took an axe and chopped off their potential future customer base.
Remote Desktop Solutions Nirvana: how I would have handled retiring the free service:
Now, since I’m a solutions guy, and I believe a better way could have been chosen to hand the Free Remote Desktop Solutions quandary, Here’s what I think LogMeIn should have done:
- Send out Monthly Newsletters to ALL of their subscribers, but most importantly they should have been offering life-time discounts to existing free customers if they convert now…
- For at least six months prior to the March 2013 decision to cut the unlimited free PC’s down to 10, they should have been including a prominent message in all of their monthly newsletters letting people know this change is coming so they can find a replacement or make a decision to remove PC’s that they don’t really need on the service, so the most important 10 PC’s would be part of their account after the change.
- For at least six months prior to ending the free version they should have been letting free users know via their monthly newsletter that they would be losing their free accounts as of a certain date, giving people time to make a decision to pay, move, decide which PC’s need access and should be paid for, etc.
- During the six months prior to ending the free version, they should have been offering attractive lifetime discounts to customers. Maybe 2 PC’s for $X per year is OK for new customers coming onboard, but they should have allowed those users with up to 10 PC’s on an account to keep them all for the same price as the basic paid pro account. They could have let everyone know that on the drop-dead date, that price would no longer be available so they better act fast or lose the deal. That would be a really good incentive for those with more than 2 PC’s.
- During the six months prior to ending the free version, they should have stopped taking new free customers.
- They should have kept a limited feature free version for those that refused to convert, and this is how that should have been handled:
- Single monitor functionality only. If the target computer had two monitors, too bad.
- Low resolution Graphics.
- No sound support.
- Limited number of connections per PC per month, or per account per month.
You see, for people like me who only used it three or four times per year, the extremely limited free version would have worked just fine. I don’t need sound. I don’t need high res graphics. I can live with only one monitor. Number of connections limit would not affect me.
Remote Desktop Solutions are not a one size fits all type of application. There are many different kinds of customers using this software in a wide variety of ways. LogMeIn had a duty to it’s customers to give them ample time, education, and reason to convert to paying customers.
Can you imagine if DropBox did this to their customers? I pay for a 200 GB account but I can guarantee you that if DropBox did this to their customers, telling all the free users that “sorry, we know you got a lot of free space by referring your friends to us but now we’re taking it away”, I would cancel my account and switch to another cloud provider, and I would switch even if it cost more. Why? Because I don’t think that’s a really good way to foster good customer loyalty.
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