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Why are GPS Owners so Evangelical?

October 13th, 2008

There are those who own GPS (Global Positioning System) navigation systems and those who don’t. No matter which group you belong to, you have probably noticed that the GPS owners LOVE to tell others about how great GPS technology is. It’s like they can’t stop talking about it!

Have you ever wondered what it is about the thing that makes the owners of it feel like they have to tell everyone they know about it? More importantly, have you ever asked yourself how you could follow some of these same ideas in regards to your business and get your customers to relentlessly hound their friends, peers, and co-workers on your behalf?

One of the first things to note about GPS technology and how it relates to your own business is that GPS is NOT perfect. Anyone who has used it quickly learns that it often sends you on a route that is slower and/or longer than the one you would have chosen. It frequently thinks there are roads where none exist, and as each day passes and new roads are built, it remains completely ignorant of the improved roads.

Yet despite these shortcomings, people still rave. Perfection is not a prerequisite for incredible loyalty. Whew!

As a long time GPS owner who started as a reluctant skeptic to those “first adopter” friends of mine, I can give you some insights on what IS important on the path from skeptic, to customer, to loyal evangelist.

First of all, a GPS offers a fair service at a fair price. If you only travel in your own city, then a single city map might be all that you need, but if you frequently (or even infrequently) travel to other cities, then the cost of the various paper maps could quickly match what it would cost to purchase a reasonable GPS unit. This is how I first got sucked in.

But once the GPS makes the sale, THEN it really begins to deliver. You see, most businesses work hard to make the sale, then deliver what they promised and move on to the next prospect to convince. But not GPS. No, she’s a different girl. (yes, I do have mine set to the girl voice-British accent if you have to know).

So I bought my unit several years ago and was looking forward to having a map of all cities easily accessible and I wouldn’t even have to flip pages or re-fold impossible origami.

But my girl started showing off a little bit. She calculated my ETA. No longer would I have to wonder when I was arriving. Now I could know almost down to the second. Even on trips where I KNOW how long it takes, if I stop to eat or get bogged in traffic, my GPS adjusts the ETA to reflect my new arrival time. That’s really cool.

So, I decide to get something to eat and she tells me she can find places close to my current location, close to my destination, or along my current route. She can also filter restaurants by my choice of food, can find gas stations for which I have credit cards, and even provides me with their phone numbers so I can call to make sure they are open and even ask for their current price on regular unleaded if I cared to price shop.

I learned that I can ask her to find businesses that I sell to along my current route and can drop in to hand off some sales literature or talk about a booking.

None of this is possible (or even IMAGINABLE) with a paper map.

She finds shortcuts that I never knew existed.

She provides me multiple ways to search for things, so that if one way comes up a dead-end, I can shift gears and search other avenues. And, yes, the driving puns in that sentence were intentional.

The computer allows for multiple languages and voices which is cool. It has volume control so that you don’t HAVE to listen to her babble “recalculating…recalculating…recalculating” over and over. But if you have a long stretch of road, having the volume up means that you will never again miss your exit. She gives you plenty of warning that you will need to “Exit right in one mile”.

That’s another thing. On a paper map as you approach an intersection you might know that you need to go to the left, but do you turn in FRONT of the overpass to go over, or do you go UNDER and make a cloverleaf? GPS owners don’t wonder, they drive it like a local.

In short, it is about over delivering in little ways. The GPS doesn’t microwave popcorn, or record my favorite TV shows. It just does what it promises and gives a little bit more.

The newer GPS units continue to over deliver by creating 3-D maps, and changing the little triangle that represents MY car into actual renderings of cars that you can choose and change at will. Is that worth the $200-$400 that a GPS unit will set you back? No. But if you look at ALL these things, it begins to become very attractive.

How can you over-deliver in little ways, that don’t cost you anything significant, and probably in ways that your customers haven’t even thought they would want or need? How can you over deliver in simple ways but yet, once you deliver at that level, your competition becomes as irrelevant as…paper maps?

Labels: Customer Loyalty, GPS

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