E-Z Pass, the electronic toll collection system, finally has come to the Ohio Turnpike. Since I often drive the turnpike from Cleveland to Toledo, I was eager for E-Z Pass to arrive in Ohio, and it was worth the wait.
Every time I zip past those poor folks paying tolls with paper tickets and fumbling in their pockets for change, I feel great about the time I’m saving. E-Z Pass has added huge value to my busy life, and therein lies a lesson for marketers about creating the type of customer satisfaction that leads to loyalty.
Gain Customers’ Loyalty by Respecting Their Time
When time is more valuable than money, marketers who know how to save customers time can win their loyalty and gain a powerful sales advantage.
Target and Kohl’s, for example, have figured out how to process a product return and apply the refund to a credit card in less than 30 seconds. They’ve taken the pain out of one of the most irritating, time-wasting aspects of shopping and it’s a key reason that millions shop there.
Contrast this with the return of an $8 hair accessory I bought last year at Claire’s that didn’t match my daughter’s prom dress. To get my $8 back, I had to fill out a paper form and provide my address, phone number, and signature, then wait for the form to be cosigned by the store manager. I walked out of the store determined never to return.
As Seconds Tick, Customers Walk
The web is another place where it’s critical to deliver value by saving people time.
Many marketers count website traffic to measure the effectiveness of their sites. But what matters more is how long it takes site users to reach the content they came there to find and whether that content helps them achieve their goals. Any delay in website navigation, including a fancy Flash animation that visitors must click past to get to the home page, encourages a speedy exit to a competitor’s site.
As you create websites, marketing campaigns, and sales materials, remember that the point of all your efforts is to quickly and effectively provide meaningful information to prospects to help them make a purchasing decision. They expect you to understand what they need to know. If you can’t demonstrate that understanding – and your respect for their valuable time – when you’re courting them, they can be sure you won’t do it when they’re a customer.
The Bottom Line: Create an “I Love It!” Experience
Everyone who encounters your business conducts an inner monologue with themselves during the experience. My inner monologue with E-Z Pass is, “I love it!”
Your goal should be to create an “I love it!” experience for prospects during the sales process and for customers after they decide to do business with you. If you succeed, you’ll build a strong foundation for customer loyalty and a smart marketing strategy.