Over the years, I've seen marketing influencers teach others that they should work to get their customers to make micro-commitments. The idea is to get your audience or your customers in the habit of taking small actions that you ask them to do, such as clicking on a link in an email, commenting on a social media post, or even buying a small item.

The premise is that getting your customers in habit of taking actions you recommend to them over time, will make it easier for them to take larger actions later, such as buying your products and services at a higher price point.

These past few weeks, I've been thinking about the converse of this concept: micro-compromises. 

A little while ago I was talking with my team about our Instagram TV and stories strategy. We were chatting about the production requirements needed to create vertical video, since that is the native format used for these aspects of Instagram.

One person on the team recommended that we could just upload the videos in the format we already have, and "people can just turn their phones to the side to watch."

I had an immediate visceral negative reaction, as did the others on the team. I let him know that anytime I see a video on Instagram that requires me to turn my phone to view it properly, I don't bother watching it. I swipe past it to move on to another one. The others on the team said they did the same. 

Expecting your customer to turn their phone to the side to watch a video doesn't seem like a big deal. But it is a micro-compromise that you're asking your customers to take.

Just like micro-commitments add up over time to get your customers to trust you, micro-compromises diminish your customer experience over time.

How to Keep Micro-Compromises From Costing You Customers

Sure, your customers may comply with the slight inconvenience of a micro-compromise a few times. But eventually, they will decide that what you're asking them to do is more trouble than it's worth, and they'll go off in search of another option that delivers a better customer experience.

Other examples of micro-compromises include things like requiring a minimum purchase to use your credit card. Or when the clerks at the store ask you for your email address as if it is a part of the check-out process. I bought a dress last month, and as the clerk was ringing it up she asked for my email address, with no explanation as to why she needed it. I asked if it was required, and she said no, so I said "no thanks." The transaction continued without a hitch, but I left the store annoyed. 

Forcing your customers to create an account and login to your website before letting them access free information is another one. Here's a tweet from someone who wasn't happy about this kind of micro-compromise.

If you're not careful, the micro-commitments you want your customers to take to advance your business goals will be received as micro-compromises that will whittle away at the quality of your overall customer experience.

Like with any relationship, too many micro-compromises breed resentment. 

Declare your vision for the overall experience you'd like your customers to have throughout various aspects of their journey with you. Be clear about how you want your customers to feel as they interact with your business.

Then have a look at the experience you are currently delivering to your customers at every touchpoint. As you are evaluating, be sure to view the experience through the lens of your customer. 

Where you see areas in your customer journey that don't live up to your customer experience vision, you can work on creating a plan to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.

Your customer doesn't care why you are doing a task a certain way if it inconveniences or frustrates them. Their focus will be on the negative emotions associated with having to compromise or do something they would prefer not to for the purpose of moving forward with you.

Remarkable experiences win customers. But delivering these experiences on a consistent basis often requires going the extra mile to design something that works for both you and your customers.

The extra time, resources, or thinking that you put in to deliver better experiences will be a win for all.

Published on: Jan 31, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.