One of the first lessons that you learn in business is that it costs more to acquire new customers than it does to keep existing ones. Not only does it cost less but it is also easier to keep old customers. So when someone asks the question “Why do so many companies treat potential users so much better than existing users?” it really makes you think.
The brochure is a thing of beauty, while the user manual is a thing of boredom. The brochure gets the big budget while the manual gets the big index. What if we stopped making the docs we give away for free SO much nicer than the ones the user paid for? What if instead of seducing potential users to buy, we seduced existing users to learn?
So why is that instruction manuals suck so much? Well, to start with they are usually made by engineers instead of marketers, or even better usability experts. If marketers made them they would be a lot more snazzy. If usability experts made them they would probably be just right, a mix between functionality and form. The best example I can think of is the instruction manuals that come from Ikea but even those have a too few words and instructions, plus most of the time the
pictures are hard to understand. But seriously, why can’t manuals be much easier to read and understand?
There is a common saying that goes “as hard as programming your VCR”, and that is in a bad way. That used to be common terminology but ever since the TiVo came along and made the whole process easier and changed everything. It is funny though, no one has nailed the instruction manual yet, they still don’t get it. Maybe marketers or usability experts need to give it a try.
But back to the point at hand. Why is is that we spend some much time
and money going after new customers instead of trying to please old ones? If we treat our current customers good they will become loyal, hopefully even evangelists of our products and / or services. If you do good by your current customers it can create a viral effect. Most of the time, companies do a lot of nice things to earn new customers but they don’t do enough to please current, loyal customers.