Customer Habits Build Business and Brands

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” – Jim Rohn

Several industries today practically survive by creating, moulding, and building customer habits. Their business models, incentive programs, and even products focus on creating consumer habits – without which most companies would probably shut down. We believe that with so much competition, companies cannot help but create and mould customer behaviours into becoming habits. Anyone running a business would know that changing customer perceptions and behaviours is extremely tough – businesses today are lucky if they can get the attention of even one section of customers. Customers are constantly looking for newer and better deals, and are always in a hurry, which effectively leaves only a tiny window of opportunity for any company within which to gain and sustain the attention of customers. In order to build behaviour into customer habits, a company must present an ‘effective case’ of why customers must buy its products, and do so consistently.

As mentioned, each customer is different and is an individual with varying interests and preferences, and hence would need to be treated as such. We too, as customers, are constantly obsessed with doing several activities at one time – checking emails, answering messages, browse the internet, spend time on social media, and other such online activities. While experts will tell you that these constant distractions can become addictive and are therefore bad, it is still quite difficult for most people to control these behaviours. As a company then it is even tougher to make or break customer habits – for the sake of convenience, customers seem to follow a certain route and practices with a particular company. If the ‘relationship’ with a company seems to be working reasonably well, customers are usually not inclined to make any changes – their patterns with the company become deeply ingrained. For customer habits to break the current company they associate with would need to do something drastically wrong or the company’s competitors should come up with something significantly better. Changing behaviours and customer habits are herculean tasks and only companies with laser focus and unfailing dedication would succeed at doing so.

How often is your company successful at changing customer habits and behaviours? What is the approach used to do so?  It is important for a company to understand its goals, and know how to maximize them.  By changing customer habits in its favour, a company would be able to reach most of its goals. It is about putting focus on encouraging and increasing the amount of interaction customers have with their products. Habits form only when something is done repeatedly and hence by increasing the number of interactions and intensifying positive experiences with each, a company can mould customer habits in its favour. The trend of providing freebies and sampling products seems to be on the rise – this has to do with taking customers and prospects beyond just thinking or hearing about products, to actually experiencing them regularly in an effort to change behaviours and mould customer habits.

Companies need to leverage technology more than before. Most people are online engaging in some kind of activity – reading emails, looking up information, checking social media, and other such activities. It would make sense therefore for a company, to increase and heighten ‘interactions’ with its products through these channels and create apps that would make it easier for customers to ‘experience’ products. The more information customers can have on their fingertips about a company, the easier it becomes for customers to remember and remain interested in a company and its products. Customers want ease and convenience, and it would be a lot easier for a company to mould customer habits by doing exactly this. For example – a service provider can send an email link to the customer’s online calendar reminding them of their salon appointment. This would make the customer feel important and would be able to perceive dedication on the part of their service provider – all the customer would need to do is show up for the appointment. The customer would be sure to use the same service provider the next time too.

We have mentioned earlier that the best way to get and keep customer attention is by first thoroughly understanding them. Every need, expectation, emotion, and feeling would reveal something about the customer. Their browsing history, buying patterns, things they buy more often, and other such ‘behaviours’ all indicate customer habits. In order to break through their old habits and gain a place in their lives, a company must take the time to monitor and analyse the behaviour of customers, and offer something far more tempting and convincing to form customer habits in its favour.

While it may seem sneaky to play on customer habits, it is important to understand that everyone is vying for a specific set of customers, and these customers expect to get what they want. It is up to customers to decide what they believe would be good or not for them – companies must simply provide products with clear and honest intentions. Habit-forming products and businesses that produce them, do so simply because there is a demand for them. It is a two-way street – customer habits dictate what products must come into being and remain in the market, and there would always be some company in the business of satisfying (and intensifying) those customer habits.

The fact is that today all companies are in the business of forming and building on customer habits. The success of any business lies in the profits it would be able to generate in the future. Every company has the right to further the cause of its business by increasing revenues, decreasing costs, and enhancing the value of its shares / stocks. Creating and building customer habits in its favour, is a highly effective way to gain the maximum profits and increase the “customer lifetime value” (CLV) of each customer. CLV is the amount of revenue a customer is able to give a company before they stop using a product, change location, move to a competitor, or even pass away. A company would need to put in place sound strategies for build customer habits – some products and services are in essence long term and have a high CLV, and hence the effort required from a company is a lot less, credit cards for example. However, brands, which sell clothing, shoes, food, and other such, are not as high on the habit-forming scale and companies need more intense strategies to get customers to use their products more often.

We know that gaining customers is a lot more expensive and the amount of effort and time required is extremely high. Therefore, it would make sense then for companies to put in place every strategy and method they can to ensure their customers stay for a long time, and the best way to do so is by building and intensifying customer habits. The longer customers stay, the more profitable and valuable they become, which in turn reduces the need for a company to acquire more customers constantly in shorter timeframes.

The fact is that in today’s business environment, companies have to contend not only with existing competitors, but also with new and fiercer ones too. The start-ups today are not risk-averse, and are coming into the market with a ferocity and laser focus, which are unparalleled and aimed at stealing customers from other players and forming customer habits in their favour. Is your company ready to combat these players? Is it equipped to not just build new customer habits, but also retain the old habits in its favour?

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