What is the difference between customer lock-in and customer value It’s huge! Customer lock-in is a marketeers wet dream. It is a bonus received at the end of the year. It is an internally focused measurement. It is EGO. If your CEO, organization, or marketeer is talking about customer lock-in you can be sure of one thing. Making revenues is more important than bringing value to a customer.
Don’t get me wrong, every company has to make revenues. But think about this for a second. Which company would you rather work for, or buy products from? A company that is focused on revenue and sees customers as a byproduct of that revenue? Or a company that is focused on providing user value, and as a result of this earns a good living?
How to you reach a status of customer lock-in? You can’t accomplish that by serving the customer value. Instead you focus on the costs involved to move away from your service. If the cost of leaving the service are high enough, your customer will not attempt to leave. Too much hassle. Examples? We see lots of businesses attempting some form of customer lock-in. Try leaving a mobile operator and taking your mobile phone number with you. Leave an Internet access carrier and then try to keep your data or e-mail address. Try switching banks making sure your monthly payments are still in order. The list is endless.
The online space isn’t any different. Web 1.0 thinking is essentially customer lock-in thinking. Web 1.0 business models force customer lock-in. It is their oxygen. Without customer lock-in, no revenues. It is the reason web 2.0 isn’t really a revolution but simply an evolution. Examples? The most obvious one is Facebook. Once you sign up your soul is sold and leaving again is impossible. Actually, that is not entirely true. If you simply quit, your account will not be deleted. But if you really want to get out, start acting against the terms of service and they will wipe your account faster than the speed of light. Facebook is a black hole that sucks you, your friends, your interactions and data in, but never lets it out again. It is the perfect customer lock-in platform.
Another example? The Apple iPhone. Apple builds great products but dictates everyone how to use it. I have an iPhone but I couldn’t buy it from the mobile operator I have been happy with for years. Instead of offering me choice, Apple has decided to make it exclusively available via a select set of operators. The reason is simple, it isn’t about customer value, but revenues. While the iPhone itself may be a great and user-friendly product, the Apple strategy is a lock-in strategy. Forcing me to buy the phone and jail breaking it. Sorry Apple, I don’t give a toss about your exclusive strategy, I want choice! Google’s g-phone? Exactly the same issue. Not because of the way they will distribute it. But because it needs a Google account to be useful.
Customer lock-in is a lucrative business. Corporations have tons of marketeers employed to build their customer lock-in strategy. The funny thing about it is that if you would get rid of all that overhead (yes, marketeers are idiots), you would not only save a whole lot of money unwisely spend, but you would also have the chance to work on customer value. It would make your customer, your employees much happier. It would generate profit and build you a strong business with loyal customers. You would not need a “Social Media strategy” to “engage” with your customers. You would not need “loyalty” programs. Note that these two “social” strategies become customer lock-in tools if applied within a customer lock-in organization. You would not need Tara Hunt to explain to you what the Whuffie factor is, as it would be in your genes. Having said that, you’d be crazy not to hire ten Tara Hunts and turn your company around form customer lock-in to customer value. A company build on customer value would be doing these things naturally, well before any consultant has thought of a new Powerpoint title called “Social media”. It is funny to realize that great developers tend to understand this much better than any marketeer ever can. It’s because a great developer does not take revenues into account. He looks at customers first.
There are many reasons thinkable why customer lock-in is dominant in company strategy, but that is big enough in itself to write another post about. Sufficient to say that if your company is using social media consultants to enter this exciting new web 2.0 world, you are in deep trouble 😉