I just read an excellent article by Joel Spolsky: do you know his stuff? – check it out: it’s highly recommended. Go read it and then come back here if you want: we’ll still be here.
Anyway: he waxes lyrical on the amazing fact that treating your customers well really pays off. And he’s right too: if you go into a store just once and the bloke behind the counter talks you into buying something different because it’s both cheaper and better suited to your needs then unsurprisingly you very quickly become a regular to that store. And what the store “loses” on that one transaction they more than make up for in lifetime value of your business. (and I wouldn’t even agree that they lose out on that individual transaction – not when you take into account the much lower incidence of processing refunds and dealing with the fact that when you realise you’ve been ripped off you tell 537 of your closes friends of the fact…)
The problem is that implementing this in the real world is hard enough – but trying to make it happen online is almost impossible. Online people just want to go for the quick kill and make the sale and get the cash now.
But: think about this: when was the last time you ever bought something online on your first visit to a site?
And how much more likely would you be to buy if the site said “the XYZ5000 is a great product: but did you know that the ABC123 does almost as much – but for 30% less?”