I recently bought my last proverbial truck load of coffee from CoffeeForLess.
I have a Keurig, and found the CoffeeForLess site to be competitively priced for the Keurig cups. I became a loyal customer after I made my first purchase about a year ago. The transaction went smoothly. The coffee arrived quickly. And the price was fair.
I’m sure other sites have better prices, but the transaction was so easy and smooth I labeled myself as a CoffeeForLess consumer. And just like any brand, if you can get consumers “labeling” themselves as your consumer – you have a customer for life – unless you screw it up.
CoffeeForLess did just that. On my recent purchase they attempted to use an urgency method.
Once I “placed” coffee in my “shopping cart” a notice appeared at the top of the screen. It indicated that the coffee I just placed in my cart was reserved for me, for the next 30 minutes and that I needed to “HURRY” (that is the exact words) to get it. And a big timer started to count down.
The behavioral influence method they are using is called urgency. You see it all the time on the Home Shopping Network as they count down the time a product is available. The method is powerful, because it gets people to buy when they are on fence. And it gets people to buy fast.
But, there is a dark side to this technique. If the urgency is false, and the customer catches your lie you will lose them. They will see you as manipulative. Their loyalty will be destroyed.
I am not suggesting that CoffeeForLess is an evil empire, or even trying to pull a fast one. I just think they are trying to make just a few more dollars from a few more people, and went just a little itty bitty too far.
I can’t fathom that they are really reserving coffee for me. First of all, it is quite likely they have more than enough stock so that “reserving” coffee for 30 minutes is not necessary. Plus, if I sat on my filled up cart and did nothing, while another order processed for the same coffee, the coffee would go to them, not me.
My loyalty to CoffeeForLess has been damaged. I suspect I won’t shop there again. Unless I happen to forget my negative experience. Or if I can’t find an alternative. But those outcomes are unlikely. I am likely done with them. And if you use false urgency to sell more to customers you will experience the same fate.
Urgency is a powerful tool. It gets prospects and clients taking action. But it must be used authentically. If you manipulate people you will lose them forever.