For customers vs to customers

In the life of every enterprise, the moment arises when a choice has to be made: Are you here for your customers, to give them what they seek, or are you trying to do something to your customers, to squeeze out extra income?

This doesn’t mean that the only path is to keep lowering your prices. It’s entirely possible your customers want to pay a lot but get more than they paid for.

What it does mean is that you use your brand and your interface and your software and your network effect to come up with ways to serve people that they would miss if you were gone.

It’s not surprising that many companies are putting software and dark patterns and AI to work on things that improve their profit. But I’m not seeing as many instances of them doing the same thing to improve the experience and delight that their customers experience.

Amazon is testing a different way to show reviews on the products they sell.

It looks like this:

instead of like this:

It’s subtle, but it can make a very big impact on merchants, on their profits, and on what we buy.

In the new format, your brain sees the image of a star, but then it has to do the mental math of turning the number 4.6 into something with weight and emotional heft–a bunch of stars.

In the old format, that work was done already. Our brains are much better at drawing emotional conclusions from this more concrete visualization. If you look at the two illustrations above, it certainly seems at first glance as though the second one is higher rated.

This new format means that higher-rated items won’t have as much of an advantage–which will push other vendors to buy ads and run coupons (which Amazon makes a profit on) instead of either gaming the reviews or actually making a better product.

When a company makes it hard to unsubscribe, or pushes needless options (“362 people are currently signing up for the insurance…”) or hustles people, they’ve forgotten the lesson that got them here in the first place.

Eventually, organizations that serve themselves lose the ability to continue serving others.

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