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Customer Inertia: How to Get Past It

Getting customers to try a new product or service can be a challenge. Here's how to get them on board.
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My online marketing company VerticalResponse, is going through a huge change right now. We're in the midst of changing the way our service works (for the better!) and along with that, the entire customer experience (for the better too!).

The issue we wrestle with is, how do we get people that are used to using one thing to make the switch to something better?

Be the Change

We tell ourselves, if it's better they'll come running! But that's not always the case. Why? Because when people invest their valuable time to learn how to use something and you change it, they have to spend more valuable time re-learning it. And time is worth money, a lot of it.

We see it all the time right? Easy change that doesn't happen...

  • There are probably lots of people on your e-mail address list with an aol.com domain.
  • Last month we had 23,000 visits to our site from people using Internet Explorer 7.
  • I still use Pando for file sharing in some cases.
  • You still pick up the phone to make a call instead of using Skype.


Change is important, however it's significant and can be expensive.

Once I was in a meeting with a very large public partner who happens to be in the CRM business. We were talking about how our online marketing service could integrate with their service because neither of us wanted to be in the business that the other was in. Great match. The CEO of said large company saw our product work inside of theirs and turned to his No. 3 guy and said "Why don't we use this ourselves?" and No. 3 paused and said, "Inertia."

But the reality was, if they used our service and integration they really could do more, do better, with less. It would just take time.

So when faced with this issue what can you do about it?

Support Them Every Step of the Way

1. Provide the best damn customer experience, not only compared to your current service, but with the competition's, as well.

2. Carefully message your customers about the change and how it will benefit them. Is it easier, faster, and/or less expensive? Show and tell them how.

3. Make it easier to switch to your new service than to switch to a competitor's service.

4. Give your customers a deal they can't refuse. Providing a little change incentive never hurts!

5. Over-give customers any support they need on as many channels as you can support including phone, e-mail, chat, and don't forget social media. Help get early adopters on board so they can help spread the word for you.

If you are planning to make sweeping changes to the way you do business, I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you'll deal with inertia!

Did you enjoy this post? If so, sign up for the free VR Buzz weekly newsletter and check out the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog.

Last updated: Mar 25, 2013

JANINE POPICK

Janine Popick is the CEO and founder of VerticalResponse (a Deluxe company), a leading provider of self-service email and social media marketing tools for small businesses. The company was ranked No. 4,882 on the 2013 Inc. 5000. @janinepopick




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