In my last blog post, I wrote about creating a value exchange between a brand/company and it’s customer or end user. An unbalanced value exchange is like getting a rotten and beaten up pear when you’ve given up two ripe apples. It is never fun when you are at the raw end of the deal.
And that’s exactly how customers feel when they give out their email addresses and then within minutes are bombarded with emails encouraging them to buy again. Frankly, it’s just not a fair exchange—it is tipped in favor of the business because the goods or services may not have had time to demonstrate their value within the exchange.
It’s also how a customer feels when they’ve been told they’d find great deals at a shoe store but then once there they had to hunt for the deals. And if, during this scavenger hunt for deals, the store associates were uninformed or even rude, well you’ve got yourself one seriously bad value exchange going on. This is a broken customer experience.
Whenever there is a failed or bad value exchange there is surely a negative customer experience. And for every one bad experience, it takes ___ good experiences for the brand to recapture/retain the loyalty of that one customer. I’m just one lost customer, though. So why do you care?
Well if it was a really bad experience, I’ll probably tell all of my friends. There go more customers and potential customers.
Businesses should care about the value that customers are receiving at their end of the exchange. Businesses need to balance the value exchange so that if a customer gives up an email address or some other piece of personal information, it pays off for the customer.
Picture a set of scales is placed on a table between a customer and a business. The customer places his email address on the scale. To counterbalance, the business places a small discount off a future purchase that requires the customer to fill out a survey to be able to use them on the other side of the scale. The scale quivers as it adjusts itself to the offers being placed. There’s a problem. The scale ends up tipped upwards on the business’ side. This is especially true when the customer finds that same coupons are available to everyone.
Effectively, the customer has placed a greater offer in terms of value. If I were that customer, I’d never enter into an exchange with that business again. In the future, I’m opting out. Conversely, if the company asks me to fill out a brief survey and offers a $25 credit, I will likely continue to engage with this company.
Promising to send weekly coupons to a customer if he signs up for emails and then breaking that promise will result in a lost customer. He’ll ignore the email, unsubscribe from the email, or worse, he’ll tune out. Making it so that when an email does come with an offer he would have responded to, he’s no longer paying attention. That is a lose-lose situation.
As a brand, a business, a store, you want to be friends with your customers. And therefore promises need to be kept and the sides of the scale equalized. Why do you want to be friends, you say?
Well, what you really want to do is sustain a positive relationship because you want your customer to come back. You want your customer to come back, be engaged, buy more and pricier products, and tell all his friends about how great your products are so that his friends become your customers. And so the story “grows” on.
The trick is getting to that level of friendship (read: engagement) with your customer that he will be driven to these actions.
Any interaction or customer engagement initiative needs to have an exchange of value. But there also needs to be a value exchange beyond paying cash for products for a customer to remain engaged with a brand, a store, a business etc. There needs to be a reason, incentive, engagement, reward for a customer’s action to get the customer to come back.
Customers are real people and they want to feel like their favorite brands are treating them like real people; that their brands care about what they like. Create the feeling of there being a velvet rope and place them on the right side of it.
So it’s more complicated than just offering value for value. Proper values need to be assigned and must be balanced correctly. Value offers also need to be relevant. Don’t send me a discount voucher for maternity clothes if I’m not pregnant.
It needs to be the right value offer, balanced in the right way, to the right person, at the right time. Even create an imbalanced value exchange where the customer feels that they are getting the better side of the deal (if you have ever received a free desert at a restaurant when you did not feel you deserved it, you know the feeling!). Sometimes the right offer means tipping the scales in favor of the customer.
Right, how do we do this? Stayed tuned for our next blog post!