How about a little experiment?
No science beakers or shock therapy required. This one really just requires you to think critically about your business and how you treat your customers.
Here it is:
Change out the word “customers” and replace it with “members.”
Sure, most of you reading this don’t have “members,” and maybe most of you don’t have regular dues or subscription fees as part of your business model.
Even if your business is built around infrequent transactions, like washing machines or mansions, pause for a minute and think about your “members.”
Would having “members” instead of customers change how your brand operates? It should.
Think about the nature of having members or customers who pay for your services on a recurring basis. They can’t be treated the same as transactional customers, because that isn’t enough to keep them paying over and over again.
Yet, simple transactions is how most brands operate. The customer buys, and away they go. The entire brand experience is based on the performance of the product/service and in some cases, the post-purchase customer service experience.
Organizations with members have to invest in the total experience, from onboarding to billing to constant communication to community creation. They don’t just have to win the customer every once in a while - it’s an every day, every interaction effort.
After all, every interaction with a brand, whether we want to admit it or not, is a potential pivot point. Whether an email, a billboard, a call to customer service, or a viewing of a Tweet, each one can reinforce a customer’s decision to be part of that brand or sow doubt in their minds. Whether you have members or just customers, something is going to influence that next purchase.
The Netflix Experience
Here’s another way of thinking about it that should connect with a few of you: what does Netflix do to keep you paying each month? Your initial reaction may be something as simple as “good movies and shows.”
And that close curation of their core product is a major part of it. They’re certainly motivated to constantly select the most intriguing content for their community, not to mention investing in the content Netflix creates themselves. That’s a major undertaking in itself.
But it probably goes deeper than just content. It’s the data they collect from your viewing habits that’s used to serve up content you might be interested in, the emails with new releases, the clear communication about price increases, the free trial that probably first brought you in the door, and on and on.
All of those things add up to the member experience, and play a role in why a large portion of you continue to pay each month. Remove any of those elements and you’re less likely to continue paying.
That’s the difference between customers and members.
What Would You Change?
What would you change if you had members instead of simply customers? We’re not talking about changing your business model, but instead your approach to the people that pay for your product or service.
It could be investing in a better onboarding experience, or having more frequent, non-transactional messages sent to customers. Maybe it’s building a better customer feedback program, or implementing a loyalty program.
Regardless of what the final form, each of us can benefit by considering what needs to happen to earn the next transaction, and the one after that, and so on.
(image courtesy of Steve Jurvetson)