Sometimes, your organization will be tempted (or forced) to offer some of your customers less than they’ve received in the past. Perhaps you need to close a local store so you can afford to open a better one a few miles away. Or reroute a bus line to serve more customers, while inconveniencing a few. Or maybe you want to replace a perfectly good free mapping application with a new, defective one so you can score points against your hometown rival in your bid for mobile domination.
A few things to keep in mind:
1. When possible, don’t downgrade. People are way more focused on what you take away than what you give them. Many times, particularly with software, it’s pretty easy to support old (apparently useless) features that a few rabid (equals profitable, loyal and loud) customers really depend on.
2. When it’s not possible to avoid a downgrade, provide a bridge or alternatives, and mark them clearly and discount them heavily. In the case of Apple maps on the new iphone, it would have been really easy to include links or even pre-installed apps for other mapping software. It’s sort of silly to make the Lightning adapter a profit center. When you cancel the all you can eat buffet, be generous with the gift cards given to your best customers.
3. If you can’t build a bridge, own up. Make it clear, and apologize. Not after an outcry, but before it even happens. The genius Francois at the Grand Central Apple store insisted that my hassles with the Music Match feature in iTunes were merely my "opinion," and all the steps I had to go through to move the audio books I’m reviewing from one device to another were in fact good things. It's silly to expect your customers to care about your corporate priorities or to enjoy your corporate-speak. If you've taken something away from them, point it out, admit it and try to earn a chance to delight them again tomorrow.
Apologizing to your best users is significantly more productive than blaming them for liking what you used to do.