You’ve probably heard about this social media stuff on the Interwebz. Your customers are talking about you when you screw up. You heard about that, right? Well, it means that you might want to screw up a lot less than you used to. Now, I don’t mean mistakes. We all make mistakes and, if anything, I advocate trying things and sometimes getting it wrong. No, it’s not the mistakes that will really hurt you–it’s the crappy stuff that you are doing on purpose.
In the old days, we loved to have fine print and terms and conditions and and any number of lovely little “techniques” to get what we wanted at the expense of our customers. Some industries have become famous for this kind of thing. Think credit card companies or the famous software “shrink wrap” licenses. These are the kinds of practices that are not sustainable in the long run, because your customers talk about you now.
Take a look at this approach from CNET below. Ostensibly, it follows all of the rules. You can opt out. See that grey Decline button?
Is this a terrible thing? No. It’s not terrible. But it is based on the old-fashioned “fool your customers” approach.
The customer comes to a trusted website for a free download and this pop-up looks like the standard terms of service box that you accept without reading. But this one is actually installing software on your computer before you even get the download. Is that software awful? No, it seems OK to be donating money to charity, but why the big green accept button and the greyed-out opt-out?
Someone not paying attention would think they are accepting the terms for the software download that they came for and just click Accept. Again, is this an awful thing? No, but why do we persist in trying to fool our customers into doing as we want rather than persuading them to do what they want?
When you play straight-up with your customers and avoid these precious games, you get loyal and happy customers. When you pull the old “greyed-out opt-out” trick, you get blog posts like this one. Which would you prefer?