Why we don’t ever want to be "sticky" with customers

Lots of software companies talk behind closed doors about how they need to be “sticky” with customers. The idea is to be so entrenched that it is hard to peel them off, hard to stop doing business with them.

This philosophy typically involves complicated software and set-up fees and training and the knowledge that the more time and energy the customer puts into installing it, the more vested they become on the front end, the less likely they will be to ever want to unwind it. And even if they did endeavor to make a change one day, it would be more trouble than it’s worth.

It is unfortunately a deliberate and calculated (and lazy) strategy designed to secure revenue and profit for as long as possible. And it is a terrible way to do business.

Sure, you’ll keep benefiting from the annuity stream and fat margins, but the downside of that outcome far outweighs the upside of continuing to pocket your customers’ hard-earned money. It creates resentment. And bad karma. And it incents the customer to tell friends and family and colleagues and anybody who asks that they don’t like your software and recommend they not get stuck doing business with you.

Better to make it easy to turn your software on and easy to turn it off. Let a customer that finds a different provider that better meets their needs pull the plug easily. Bid them a thanks for the chance to serve them and a fond farewell. They’ll hold no ill will towards your business and likely will recommend it to others who they think are well-suited for what you offer.

So focus your energy on that, not on how to slyly make it hard for customers to leave you. Focus on being incredibly easy to do business with and make it fun different than what they expect (the “sticky” strategy is widespread so people’s expectations are low right now) to be your customer. Make everything easy. And refreshing.

Ultimately you’ll build a more successful and profitable and enduring business than if you take the short-sighted “sticky” route. And most importantly, you’ll sleep easily at night knowing that the people who use your software do so because they want to. Not because they feel trapped.


P.s. If you like this post you might also like Why we let stars and chemistry determine Schedulefly’s fate.