extra mile

How Adding Value Builds Customer Loyalty

It’s no secret that MoviePass has been making major moves lately in an attempt to stay alive. When it first came out, MoviePass promised its subscribers the ability to view 1 movie a day (365 movies a year) for a low monthly fee of $9.95– a revolutionary new way to see motion pictures affordably.

But since August, MoviePass has been showing signs of struggle. They previously downgraded the subscription to just 3 movies a month (36 movies a year) without lowering the price. And in their latest initiative to hang in the game, they tried re-engaging subscribers who had canceled by offering to renew their original subscription of 1 movie/day. The real kicker? MoviePass claimed they would automatically renew the previous subscription and charge the credit card on file unless the customer opted out.

In the world of loyalty, we think MoviePass took two giant steps backward with this move. First by hampering their chance at regaining "unloyal" customers by charging them for a service they don't want, without their consent. And second, they made their loyal customers unhappy by not offering them the original 1 movie/day deal as well (they currently receive 3 movies/month).

Treating unloyal customers better than the loyal ones is kind of a backwards business model (and just plain madness). But the larger issue afoot is expecting customers to be ok with paying higher prices for less value.

The business-customer relationship, regardless of industry, is always primed for disruption via one simple concept: value. Companies who invest in creating value for customers are strengthening relationships and reducing churn. They’re differentiating themselves from competitors and, as a result, growing in a viral, organic manner through referrals and recommendations.

Value doesn't necessarily equal "cheaper prices" or "more stuff". It simply means enhancing the customer's ability to solve problems and reach their goals. With that definition in mind, here are a few ideas on how to add value.

Focus on Customer Goals

What specifically does your product help someone accomplish? Build everything around this - not necessarily the “sizzle” of your product, but the actual goal of your customer.

For Access, everything we do is to help our clients build revenue through engagement and loyalty. The fact that we have 300,000+ merchant relationships is great, but it’s how we utilize those relationships to drive behavior that matters.

Download the FREE eBook - Nice Guys Finish First

Create Experts

In our Earning Engagement eBook, we discussed how businesses can create value by helping customers become experts at using their products or services.

Take what your brand helps people do or accomplish. Teach them how to do it, with and without your brand. Make them feel smarter by sharing your learnings. Make their day easier by arming them with actionable knowledge.

The better they are at using your product to meet their goals, the more integral you’ll be to their success.

This approach works with prospective customers as well. For example, we operate a handful of pages that are giant compendiums of industry stats around customer loyalty, coupons, employee engagement, Millennial loyalty, and travel & tourism.

They exist solely to aid people with an interest in the topics, and they take a lot of time to maintain. 

But it works. Those pages help visitors become better informed. Many of them click through to other pages to learn more about Access, or they subscribe to the blog. We've even acquired a few clients through them.

The effort is a valuable win-win for everyone. 

Give Customers the Upper Hand

One of the keys to value is it makes the customer think, “They’re just giving this to me?”

Offer something to your customers that makes them feel as if they’re pulling a fast one on you. Let them feel as if they have the upper hand in the relationship.

A great example of this is Amazon Prime. I don't know how they manage to make money when I can get free two-day shipping on a 30lb, 10 person tent, but it sure is cool. 

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Spend Only as Necessary

Of course, a conversation about adding value to customers has to mention costs. Nothing is free, but adding value doesn’t have to be expensive. Educational tutorials, blog posts or videos, for example, is cost effective to you yet valuable to customers.

Even items that have hard costs associated with them are worth exploring.

Think of it this way: what could have a more positive long-term return - a booth at a trade show, or building out an on-demand interactive learning resource for existing customers?

Investing into existing customers will almost always pay off more in the long-term than the same investment into business development.

It starts with a focus on value, and doing what needs to be done to stand out in the customer’s mind.

(Want a simple example? Click here to see how Access partnered with an organization in Minnesota to retain over 80% of their members.)

Stop the Madness

The companies who have mastered the art of adding value are honed in to their customers’ goals and are equipping them with tools and knowledge that go beyond what their core product offers.

Customers (especially the loyal ones) should always receive star treatment, feeling like they’re getting the better end of the deal because the value outweighs the price.

And as a result, they’ll be more effective with your product, stay a customer longer, and refer their peers.

(Extra mile image courtesy of Daniel Lobo)

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Topics: customer loyalty

Written by: Brandon Carter

Brandon is a former writer and marketer for Access Development. He's a frequent blogger on customer and employee engagement & loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Connect with him on LinkedIn or Twitter at @bscarter

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