Dealing with Manufacturers Complaints

Author: John Honovich, Published on Jul 27, 2011

We get a lot of manufacturer complaints. Every week. Seemingly someone is always upset, angry, disappointed, shocked, etc. Just like we have the right to criticize, manufacturers certainly have the right to complain. Some manufacturers provide very strong feedback while others simply whine. In this note, we break down the differences and look at how the rise of the social web is changing the industry's power structure.

Manufacturer Carrots and Sticks

Historically, manufacturers have been the heart of the industry. Their money and products fuel and shape what gets said and who sells what to whom.

Ask yourself: How many times have you read a trade magazine or market analyst criticize a manufacturer? It is extremely rare. Bigfoot sightings are far more common. This is no coincidence. The mags and analysts depend almost entirely on large purchases from a small number of manufacturers.

Integrators, too, face risks in criticizing manufacturers, especially products that have limited distribution. Manufacturers can restrict product availability, favor rival dealers, offer lower price discounts, etc.

For manufacturers, this is a good world because marketing messages can be tightly controlled. For users, not so much because problems are easily hidden.

Independence from Manufacturers

Financial independence from manufacturers is an absolute necessity. In the beginning of the site, I spoke privately with the industry 'big shots' and it was crystal clear to me that manufacturers controlled the process with their $10,000 consulting engagements, report purchases, webinar sponsorships, advertising campaigns, etc. You take that money and they can and will use it as leverage to (1) stop you from saying anything negative and (2) push you to promote their agenda. At some level, I do not blame manufacturers for this. After all, they are the ones paying the whole bill, not anyone else.

By contrast, our business model is designed to stop manufacturer influence. We have thousands of members and not one of them represents more than a fraction of 1 percent of our revenue. Whether anyone pays or does not pay a few hundred dollars for yearly membership because of the coverage we provide is irrelevant to us. Manufacturers can complain but they are financially powerless to influence us.

Good and Bad Feedback

Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox
Get Video Surveillance News In Your Inbox

While we have no interest in making manufacturers happy, we do care deeply about the technical accuracy of our reporting and analysis. As such, we welcome all feedback on the details themselves and look forward to quality input - whether from manufacturer, integrator, end user, consultant or others.

To conclude, here are recommendations on the least and most effective forms of feedback.

Bad Feedback:

  • Your emotional state: Whether you are happy, sad, angry or frustrated is irrelevant to our reporting. Manufacturers might use this as a stick to prod trade magazines on future ad purchases but we just do not care.
  • Your customers: Manufacturers like to respond by saying 'our customers love us' or we just deployed at Customer A, B or C. All manufacturers, whether good or bad, have customers. As such, it makes no difference.
  • People you talk to: Strangely, manufacturers will say things like , "I spoke with B at Organization X and he loves our product." Again, all manufacturers talk to people who say they love their product. This will not change our position.
  • Citing your marketing slogan: We often get feedback that says, "But, you don't understand, we are the choice of a new generation" or whatever the company's marketing slogan is.
  • That we are out of touch with industry trends: Ironically, we get this frequently from people who have been in the surveillance industry for less than a year. Disagree with us in a more productive manner.

The consistent thread in all bad feedback is that it is emotive and subjective.

By contrast, good feedback is technical and factual:

  • Your Revenue: Revenue is a much better sign than individual customers because it represents an aggregate of many customers. We know what your main competitor's revenue is, so if yours is higher it is a good sign. On the other hand, many manufacturers hide this because they know they are lagging.
  • Number of Customers in a Market Segment: If you have a mass of customers in one segment (say education), share that numbers (e.g., we have 50+ US colleges). This is a much better trend line than individual customer wins.
  • Facts on Your Products and Pricing: If our analysis includes incorrect facts or omits relevant ones, tell us. Often, manufacturer feedback ignores this points and leads us to conclude that our analysis is correct but that the manufacturer simply wants to whine about us not being more flattering. By contrast, a number of manufacturers provide excellent factual feedback. Not only will we update reporting immediately but these manufacturers gain our respect and trust as people who understand their products and can communicate effectively.
  • Roadmap and Upcoming Enhancements: Often, manufacturers are well aware of the concerns we state as their customers have raised them as well. Many times enhancements are already on the roadmap for release within 6 months to a year. Share this with us, even if it is off the record. It gives us visibility and confidence that you are working on improvements.

The Rise of the Social Web

As the web allows more people to provide feedback and input on products and services, manufacturers will continue to lose control over their marketing message. Whether it is an IPVM test, anonymous forum discussions or user complaints on twitter, this trend of independent feedback will increase. In the long run, manufacturers will serve themselves best by thoughtfully listening and providing real feedback on issues raised.

Related Reports

ADI Battles Manufacturer Partners on Jan 11, 2017
ADI is battling their manufacturer partners, building up their own competitive house brand W-Box, while manufacturers still fund ADI's business...
Exacq 3 Co-Founders Exit on Jan 10, 2017
Exacq co-founders David Underwood and Daniel Rittman have exited the company. UPDATE: And a 3rd co-founder is now also leaving. In this note,...
How Axis Can Beat Hikvision on Jan 09, 2017
Hikvision has rocked the industry globally, bullying former video surveillance revenue leader Axis even in the Western world. What can Axis...
Dahua New Marketing Head Hired From Hanwha / Samsung on Jan 04, 2017
Dahua is bad at marketing. And they are finally taking a step to correct that, hiring Janet Fenner, who joins after 6+ years at Samsung / Hanwha...
Suffering Criticism, Hikvision Keeps Insecure Online Service Up [Now Down] on Jan 03, 2017
Hikvision suffered severe criticisms for its abrupt plan to discontinue its Hikvision Online service, with 3 core functions to be removed on Dec...
Axis Launches A Blog on Dec 22, 2016
Is it 2007 or 2017? Because Axis Communications has just launched a blog. Are they 10 years too late or just right? In this post, we examine...
No One Should Ever Use Simplisafe on Dec 12, 2016
Simplisafe, the upstart DIY intrusion alarm system, is increasingly Public Enemy Number One in the alarm business. Recently, Security Sales ran an...
3VR Sales And Marketing Execs Out, Company Shifting on Nov 22, 2016
Two executives are out at 3VR, both after relatively short tenures at the company. 3VR's CEO says this is part of a shift to cover new markets....
Top Manufacturers Gaining and Losing 2016 on Nov 21, 2016
Hikvision has been the top gaining manufacturer in IPVM's annual integrator survey the past 2 years (see 2015 results and 2014 results). Can they...
Sony and Bosch Combine Forces on Nov 15, 2016
Two of the biggest brands in the video surveillance industry are joining forces. Following a wave of industry consolidation and the race to the...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Canon 250MP Prototype Targeted At Surveillance on Jan 17, 2017
At one point Axis declared the megapixel race was over, but now parent company Canon is showing an imager that would be a rocket ship in a...
Cut in Half, Everfocus Shifts Strategies on Jan 17, 2017
The race to the bottom impact continues. Now, Everfocus, who used to be one of the larger budget providers, is shifting strategies after years of...
Top ISC West 2017 Booth Trends on Jan 16, 2017
There are significant moves among many major manufacturers on the ISC West show floor, and very few prime spaces left unoccupied. In this report we...
Genetec Favorability Results on Jan 16, 2017
In the race to the bottom and flight to 'solutions', Genetec has taken a contrary path. The company remains independent, focusing up market,...
Free VMS Software Directory on Jan 13, 2017
Many Video Management Software (VMS) providers offer free versions, either open source, for a limited number of cameras or for a limited amount of...
Milestone Essential Subscription Removed on Jan 12, 2017
Subscriptions may be the future for Milestone and VMSes but not right now. Responding to negative feedback, Milestone has removed subscriptions...
Alarm Reporting Formats Overview on Jan 12, 2017
Alarm reporting formats are methods for communicating complicated information quickly, using plain old telephone service. It is still the main...
Amazon Sales of Hikvision China Cameras on Jan 12, 2017
Hikvision has become widely available in the US, including on popular retail outlets like Amazon, with over 2,600 results: 4MP Hikvision outdoor...
Last Day IP Networking Course January 2017 on Jan 12, 2017
This is the only networking course designed specifically for video surveillance professionals plus it includes live training, personal help and...
ONVIF Favorability Results on Jan 11, 2017
ONVIF has been one of the most debated aspects of the video surveillance industry. On the one hand, its aim to increase interoperability has been...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact