Thursday, December 23, 2010

Tell me what I'm getting before you bill me

I bought a gently used car this past summer with the tricked out navigation system and ability to receive satellite radio. I spent about an hour a day in my car on my typical round trip commute and happy with NPR, the radio or my iphone for audio company. One day not too long ago, I noticed while cycling through my audio options that XM radio was enabled. I had not asked to activate it but thought 'Hey, I'm getting something for free!" Had I stumbled into one of those consumer utopian moments when you receive a subscriber based service for free? (Sort of like free HBO!) Don't ask, don't tell and hope that it continues.

I haven't spent much time in a car that receives satellite radio so I had to explore the selection of this service. I didn't have a program guide so the trial error was  hitting the next button and then trying to decide if I liked the current song playing or could interpret something from the name of the station (cryptic  titles like 'The Loft' or 'Willie's Place', the genre (Rock, Hip Hop, Country, etc.) and then the name of the song and artist. Was this station worthy of getting a button assignment on my radio? Very trial and error. I suppose I could have gone to and found the guide but I managed to find a half dozen stations I liked and was content.

So, you see what's coming. I got a bill for the next 3 months of satellite radio service from XM the other day. I had been enjoying a 60 day free trial. I was disappointed. Slightly angry that my 'free' service was just a trial and now the gig was up. I would have savored it more if I knew it had a life span!

So, companies out there who operate off the subscriber or freemium model, follow these guidelines for happier participants and likely a higher sign up rate:

  1. Tell people up front! Don't let them stumble into it. Consumers like knowing what they get.
  2. Tell them what they are getting and how to get the most from it! I spent a lot of time educating myself on the service and where to find music I liked. And there were likely other stations I would have enjoyed that would have endeared the service even more. 
  3. Remind me what I'm getting during the trial period! Check in with me. Am I liking it? Did I try this feature? And create some urgency to sign up.
  4. Then, bill me. Offer me something compelling to continue the service. 
  5. And don't forget to check on me. Nurture me. Make me consistently happy. This is probably the most important step companies forget. 
It would work. It does work. And I'm back to NPR.

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