Thursday, May 31, 2007

Speaking of Love

Maggots on a Rock
Originally uploaded by mndrix

While I was writing the previous entry, my wife walked in the room with a little snack for me. That's exactly the kind of thing a business should do for its customers: "I know this isn't much, but I thought you'd enjoy it."

(Yes, that's a Disney Princess stress ball in the background. Content for another entry.)

Showing customers your love

First, let me say that I'm all for charging as much as the market will bear. If customers don't like the pricing structure they're free not to use the product. However, sometimes charging for a product or service is poor business. For example, let's compare the Google and eBay SMS offerings.

Google SMS allows you to submit searches to Google via text message. You text 466453 and Google responds with a brief, helpful result. Very cool, very handy and all for free.

eBay SMS is a similar service. It notifies you when you've been outbid on an auction or when an auction you're watching is about to end. You can then reply to the message to bid on the auction. Very cool, quite handy and all for $0.25 per auction!? As I read the service description, my internal eBay satisfaction meter climbed higher and higher. Fantasies of useful text messages zoomed through my mind. When I saw the pricing my meter sank below where it started: Are you kidding me? That must cost you next to nothing.

Now of course, I'd rather that eBay offer the service for a charge than not offer it at all. There are probably some people out there willing to pay for eBay text message alerts, but I'm not one of them. By providing SMS messages as a complimentary service to bidders, eBay could make their platform more appealing. They would have kept my customer satisfaction meter nicely stoked.

In business, it's important to ask, How can I show the customer my love? Often the answer is the same as with romance: small, inexpensive trinkets that say I'm thinking about you.