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.