CEO Coaching: When Customers Become Cows

“Would you like fries with that?” has been around as a revenue enhancer since I was very young. Seems like a good question and no doubt enhances revenue (and waistlines) significantly.

At some point, however, upcharges are damn annoying! I wrote some years ago about my wife buying a monkey backpack for a 1 year old and being asked if she wanted an extended warranty. What?

It makes sense that a ski resort would try to get daily pass users to upgrade to a season pass. Share of entertainment wallet is a logical objective, and most everyone is happy. (I buy two season passes every year, which may cloud my judgment! As I tell my wife, the more I ski, the cheaper it is! She doesn’t fall for it either.…)

There’s a line somewhere, however, that causes a company or product to lose my trust and annoy me. I guess everyone has a different capacity for being worked over.

Why do I need to get an extended warranty on every electronic gadget? Can’t they just build a better refrigerator, laptop, or thermostat? “Isn’t this supposed to be a quality product?” I usually ask the salesperson. They don’t like that question. If it’s a piece of crap, I don’t want a replacement piece of crap—just find me a good product!

BMW may be The Ultimate Driving Machine, but apparently not ultimate enough to keep your butt warm. They recently started selling monthly subscriptions for heated seats in some countries. Twelve dollars per month in the UK. Perhaps when they decide to consider a demand pricing model, it will be based on outside temperature? Perhaps they’ll have a dashboard with multiple menu selections like frozen dough, hot buns, and burnt toast—each with a renewable fee halfway to your destination! The new marketing model (for internal use only): “It’s not the ultimate driving machine—it’s the ultimate vending machine!”

Heated seats are irritating but pretty small scale. For a monstrous sales pitch, look back to WeWork and its pitch to investors. It’s not office space—it’s the elevator to “world consciousness!” 

At what point do you view your customers as a cow to milk rather than someone to care about and meet their needs. Yes, profitably, but not to fleece them. Just because it might generate revenue doesn’t mean it’s right!

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