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Ideas. Insights. Inspiration.

When Less Money Makes More Sense

HP recently suggested I spend less money with them each month.

You read that correctly: less money.

And the explanation for why they would do this is a masterclass in how to build trust with your customers.

I own an HP OfficeJet Pro 8022, and rather than buy and continually replace ink cartridges, I've chosen to subscribe to HP's Instant Ink Program.

This means that in exchange for a $7.49 per month subscription fee, HP will send me new ink cartridges whenever my printer indicates a replacement cartridge is needed.

This $7.49 tier allows me to print up to 300 pages each month, and if I use fewer than 300 pages, I can roll over up to 300 pages of my unused allocation to subsequent months. If I need more than 300 pages, I can pay $1.25 for every 10 additional pages I need. Simple! But as it turns out, 300 pages per month isn't "enough" for me... it's too much. And HP noticed.

When I logged into my account to download my monthly invoice, a message was prominently displayed:

"Based on your printing, consider downgrading your plan to save money."

Immediately below that was a hyperlink labelled "Browse Plans". Clicking on that link took you to a page where you could compare the seven different printing plans available.

But here's what was interesting: my current plan was labelled as such using a black call-out box. And the less-expensive plan HP was recommending was called out in bright pink.

Even more interesting was the fact that HP wasn't trying to move me down a single price tier, to a plan that would give me 50 printed pages per month at a cost of $5.49.

They were recommending I move down two tiers, to a $1.25 / month plan.

I was paying $7.49 per month, and HP was suggesting I pay $1.25 per month instead. This begs the question: why would HP willingly sacrifice almost $75 a year in revenue without me ever uttering a complaint about the program?

It's because my trust in the program is worth a lot more than $75 a year.

HP could have done nothing and continued to let me pay for a more expensive pricing package than I needed.

But if they did that, there was a good chance I'd eventually realize I was paying too much, and get annoyed by that revelation. I might get annoyed enough, in fact, to abandon the subscription program altogether and go back to simply buying ink cartridges when I needed them. And if that happened, I'd be less reliant on HP and... GASP... might even consider a different brand of printer the next time I needed to make a purchase.

Instead, by recommending a plan that was more suitable to my actual printing needs, HP demonstrated they were willing to act in my best interests.

And when you act in a customer's best interest, you build their trust.

Earning short-term revenue is great.

But earning customer trust is how companies thrive.


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