I just received a note from Amazon. I had just bought a Kindle book. Along with the order acknowledgment, they congratulated me on earning a book credit of $1.40. I get those, often, but for some reason I paid attention to the email today. What leapt out to me was the fact that I had to use this credit in a very short period of time, otherwise it would expire.
I found it mildly annoying. If Amazon’s systems analyzed my purchases of ebooks, I tend to order at least $100 a month. So I know, that I will be able to claim the $1.40. And even if I didn’t, losing that $1.40 credit won’t send me to the streets to beg for money to buy books.
The other thing, I had to use that credit on a certain category of books, not any Kindle (or hardcopy) book. I didn’t bother, looking at the 1000’s of books in that category, I probably could find something, but I’ll keep ordering the books I want, and if I get to collect the $1.40, that’s fine, if not, Amazon can revel in the fact that I’ve let them drop $1.40 to their bottom line. (I’m sure Jeff Bezos is worried about that.)
What was offensive about this offer is Amazon wants me to buy the way they want me to buy, not how/what I want to buy. It got me reflecting on the question, “How often do we force our customers to buy the way we want them to buy, rather than helping them buy the way they want to buy?”
I suspect you know the answer to this.
Too often, we force our prospects and customers to buy the way we want them to buy. We have a rigid process we inflict on them. We have scripted every conversation in that process. When the customer may somehow get off course, we nudge them back into our process.
But our customers are expressing this displeasure. They don’t want to buy the way we want them to buy, they want to buy the way they want to buy. They aren’t responding to our outreach. They are using other channels in their buying process, shifting increasingly to digital and other channels. They are deferring engaging sales people until much later in their buying journey, often once they have made their decision. And, increasingly, they are opting for a “rep-free” buying process.
Customers, nearly always, “win” in this tug of war. They nearly always buy the way they want to buy, even if sometimes, they end up regretting their buying decision.
How might things change if we enabled our customers to buy the way they want to buy? If they want a rep-free buying experience, how might we help them do it successfully, with low regret? If they want human intervention, how might we do this, creating value important to them?
Of if they are struggling, how do we help them learn how they might buy? What should the be learning, who should be involved, how do they establish their goals, how might they assess risk, how should they look at the change management process.
Somehow, it seems to me, if we could help our customers learn how to buy, more effectively and efficiently; if we responded to how they want to buy; we create greater value and achieve our shared objectives.