How do you create a customer habit?

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”
- Aristotle -

It is Thursday evening, time to strategize before the busy weekend. It has become a habit of mine, to always meet Charlie on Thursday evening and speak about making the business better. Charlie starts by saying “Habit is both a good thing and a bad one, as Vince Lombardi said once, winning is a habit, unfortunately, so is losing”. Charlie loves quoting smart people.

I am quite distracted today. It’s not because I don’t want to listen. It is really because I am so excited! I know it is going to be a great weekend. It’s almost summer time and although summer is not the best season for chocolate eating. OK, OK, to be completely honest, it is the worst season for chocolate store owners, but I really like the summer time. I think I would like it even more this year as it’s going to be the first year my business will introduce, drum beat…Ice Cream. Yea!! I love ice cream :-).

Charlie put down his glasses and looks at me. “OK, I’m back, Charlie” I said smiling, so exciting, ice cream.

Charlie continues and says “Today, I want us to talk about increasing your business’ competitive advantages, and mainly I want us to talk about customer captivity or the importance of creating your business product as a habit in your client’s life”.

“Charlie, I’m not sure I understand, we spoke a lot about creating a better product, better customer service, to always deliver on my promise, isn’t that enough to attract my perfect clients to my store?”.

Charlie smiles and says “These are all important, but great companies are doing even more. Great companies can create an “addiction” to their product by encouraging consistently high frequency of use of their products or services. They are creating a habit of consumption of their product”.

I’m taking notes now. I am focused now.

Charlie continues and says “By creating this recurring “addiction”, great companies will have greater customer captivity and a competitive advantage over companies that have to convince their customers to buy their product every single time instead of just the first time. As an added bonus, companies with habits of consumption will have greater pricing power, as well”.

He says “Think about some of the products you and your customers are using on a daily basis.

• Where do they get their coffee on their way to work?
• What type of coffee do you drink?
• Why do you think daily soap operas TV shows are daily?
• What is the first Website you visit each morning?
• What brand of soda or orange juice do you drink?”

I stop and think about these questions, yes, I drink my coffee at the same time every day, and yes Ashley likes only one brand of juice, if they don’t have it in the supermarket, it creates a big fiasco at home. I will pay any price to get it for her. Wow the thought just hit me, “I will pay any price…”

I ask Charlie “How do companies increase their customers’ habit?”

Charlie says “habits emerge because our brain is constantly looking for ways to be more efficient, to be automatic. Think about it Liz, we will get crazy if we had to think about every little decision we need to make in our daily lives. When a habit emerges, our brain stop working hard on making the right decision, it is going to automatic mode”.

He continues and says, “There are 3 parts for a habit to be triggered. The first is a cue that let our brain know it is time to look for a predefined pattern we should act upon. The second part is a routine which is really our activity, and the last part is the reward”.

I jump on my feet and say, “There is this wonderful ice cream store down the shore, every time when we are on our way home after spending a day at the beach, we stop at the store. We don’t even think about it, we just stop there. The stop at this Ice cream store, ordering my favorite ice cream and just having a great time with my husband and Ashley is a big reason for me to go to the shore”.

I continue “We don’t even think about it, we just stop there. I really want the Ice cream and the great chat, I really want it”.

Charlie smiles and says “This is an excellent example Liz, the key or the engine to turning on our habits, is our craving, this craving is almost unnoticed at the start, but eventually we are associating this craving with the cue, and it becomes automatic”.

“Every time you see the Ice cream store and even think about it the craving power is activated and you will automatically stop there. Our brain is happy, no need for decision making, the cue and craving are already there, the routine will happen automatically”.

I am trying to consume all that Charlie is speaking about, it is interesting, I am thinking how by embedding specific cues to consume their products, companies can increase their competitive advantage and create a habit of product consumption or service usage. I am thinking about my favorite coffee, toothpaste, TV show, movie theater, hotel room. Wow we are truly creatures of habits.

Charlie looks at me as if reading my thoughts and says ”let me quote you Warren Buffett who said the chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken”. Charlie is very pleased, lesson delivered.

Charlie and I will continue to talk about creating habits for the next few hours. You know, I can already see how I can help my clients have a great a summer habit of eating my Italian high quality ice cream. It will be a unique and repeatable experience, it will bring good memories of families eating together, refreshing themselves with their unique flavors every few days. It will be a habit they will cherish for the rest of their lives. They will crave for some goodness in their lives. It is fun to create sweet habits.

How do you create great habits in your clients’ lives?


About the Author: Liz

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