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

Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...
Hikvision Marketer Caught Spamming, Fails at Coverup, Fired on May 23, 2017
A Hikvision marketing employee was caught by IPCamTalk trying to surreptitiously disparage IPVM and IPCamTalk. This is an outgrowth of Hikvision's...
ShotSpotter To IPO, Facing Low Revenue and Losses on May 17, 2017
A rare event for North American security manufacturers is upcoming. ShotSpotter is planning to IPO on the NASDAQ, aiming to raise $34.5...
A Marketing Home Run For Knightscope - Man Attacks Robot on Apr 27, 2017
We criticize Knightscope regularly - their lack of revenue, their trying to fool mom 'n pop investors, their associating themselves with a clueless...
Hikvision EZVIZ Amazon Scam Revealed on Apr 26, 2017
Hikvision is violating US Federal Trade Commission guidelines and Amazon rules with a "Honest" Review Program scheme that provides gift cards to...
Beware The "Hit List" Ranking on Apr 21, 2017
The hit list. Kirschenbaum's recent newsletter complained about a 'hit list', bemoaning how a company took aim at ADT. Alas, that's the Google...
Failing at Marketing, "ALL HIKVISION PRODUCTS" On Sale on Apr 18, 2017
The ballerinas are out. The price cuts are back. Hikvision is struggling to build a premium brand (i.e., 'The Art of Video Surveillance') so...
Nvidia Deep Learning Developer Kit Examined on Apr 17, 2017
Can building a deep learning video analytics application be as easy as the typical VMS installation? Maybe not quite, but Nvidia is aiming to make...
A New Low For Knightscope - Just $3! on Apr 13, 2017
Take a look: Did you think, even for a fraction of a second, "$3 per share, could be a good deal"? If so, you should not invest in anything....
The Sleaziest Booth Of ISC West - Rapid Response on Apr 10, 2017
The use of 'booth babes' is way down overall, but one company, Rapid Response, continues to treat ISC West like it is an HBO brothel documentary...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Anti-Hack Access Card Shields Tested on May 26, 2017
Keeping your access control card information secure is becoming a big priority, especially since cheaper copiers can hack details easily. Multiple...
H.265 / HEVC Codec Tutorial 2017 on May 25, 2017
Since 2013, video surveillance professionals have talked about the potential for H.265. Now, in 2017, H.265 is starting to gain mainstream...
Camera Course Summer 2017 on May 25, 2017
Learn video surveillance and get certified. IPVM provides live online classes, recorded videos, personal help, cutting edge education and...
Most Respected Manufacturer Competitors on May 25, 2017
Manufacturers told IPVM what competitor they most respected. In terms of total revenue, Hikvision, Dahua and Axis are certainly tops but would...
CyPhy 'Unlimited' Flight Time Security Drone Examined on May 25, 2017
Drones face several issues as commercial security platforms - legal restrictions (e.g., in the US, the FAA), costs, and limited flight durations...
Milestone Entry Level Mobile Password Vulnerability Disclosed on May 24, 2017
While many manufacturers have only addressed cybersecurity vulnerabilities after public disclosures were made (or threatened), Milestone has...
How Integrators Use IPVM on May 24, 2017
150 integrators explained how they use IPVM and how it helps them stay informed and improve their business.  The 4 main uses integrators cited for...
Alarm Supervision Guide on May 24, 2017
Burglar alarms can constantly monitor the health of attached circuits, sensors, and devices to ensure that they remain operational. This is known...
Arlo Go Cellular Cloud Camera Tested on May 23, 2017
Totally wireless surveillance cameras are growing but almost all typically depend on a hub and local Internet access. However, many outdoor...
Avigilon New COO James Henderson Profile on May 23, 2017
It has been nearly 2 years since the infamous Bryan Schmode 'resigned' as Avigilon COO. Now, Avigilon once again has a COO, promoting James...

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