Yan Pritzker software entrepreneur, photographer, musician

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hello, i'm yan

I am a photographer, entrepreneur, technologist, guitarist, climber, and telemark skier

This blog is about startups, blogging, Ruby On Rails, virtualization and cloud computing, photography, customer service, marketing, ux and design, git, and lots more.

I am the CTO at Reverb.com - The Marketplace for Musicians. We're hiring web Ruby and iOS developers!

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Reach me at yan at pritzker.ws

Make the easy stuff free

Posted 5 March 2010 @ 5pm in marketing

The other day I thought I had lost my Kirkwood ski resort season pass. So I sent an email to the season pass office wondering what it would cost to replace it. Their reply: $50. Now, that’s kind of ridiculous. It takes about 5 minutes of employee time and probably only a couple bucks in marginal material costs (plastic card and printer) to reproduce the pass. Given that purchasing a season pass I have already committed several hundred dollars to the resort, why should they charge me so much for a replacement?

I think there are two philosophies at play here. Their philosophy is that every opportunity to make money should be taken. By charging a large pass replacement fee, they capitalize on their customers’ misfortune and land a little extra cash. However, people lose their passes rarely so the question is: is the occasional extra $50 in their pocket really worth the bad customer service. Am I really going to think about buying another pass when I know it costs another $50 if I lose it? In comparison, Copper Mountain in Colorado charges $15 to replace a very similar pass, so I’m not just making numbers up when I say it can be done cheaper.

BUT, imagine if I had contacted them, and they said “because you’re a valued customer and have committed to skiing with us, your season pass replacement is FREE”. Might I not be inclined to tell my friends about the awesome customer service I just received? I might even be inclined to tell the whole world how awesome Kirkwood is. Is it better to have my $50 or my eternal gratitude, that will bring more of my friends to the resort? Which makes more money for the business in the end?

Of course at the end of the day, I did find my season pass, so I won’t be forking over $50 to them any time soon, but…now there’s inspiration for this blog post…. The moral of the story is: if it’s easy for you, make it free for your customers, and make them feel special. That’s worth much more in future dollars than the money you can make from their misfortune.