Jim's Marketing Blog

Marketing ideas to help you grow your business

How to use The Lock In Effect

There are 2 ways to retain your clients or customers, using something called The Lock In Effect.

What is The Lock In Effect?

lock in effect

The Lock In Effect is a term, which is typically used to explain a practice, where a company makes it extremely hard for their customers to leave them – even if the customer wants to.

For example:

  • UK banks are notorious for making it far more difficult to move to another bank, than it needs to be. Bill payments are often missed and a process that should take minutes electronically, can drag on for weeks or more. You feel locked in, because the pain and frustration of moving banks is so high.
  • If your company is set up to use a certain software package, which all your employees have mastered, it makes it a lot harder to drop that software, when a new alternative appears. The cost of buying the new software, the time and cost required to retrain everyone and the potential for lost data, makes the customer feel locked in.

An alternative Lock In Effect

Yes, there will always be business owners, who happily offer a very average service and try and lock their customers in. However, they don’t read this blog.

For people like you and I, there is a far better way to use The Lock In Effect.

We can create so much value through our products and services, that our clients or customers lock themselves in. This approach to business has been used by companies like Apple and Zappos – where we see their customers not only going back to them again and again, but also telling everyone about them. That’s why the best Apple salespeople, are Apple’s own customers.

Never miss an opportunity to find ways to increase the value of your products and services. Always look for ways to create a compelling customer experience. Never forget that your customers have the freedom to work with or buy from, whoever they choose. Make it your ongoing challenge, to inspire them to keep choosing you.

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  1. Something I have been struggling with for years, trying to keep people locked in.

  2. Jim,

    I love the way you switched the focus… so that it was about them wanting to lock themselves in. Big brands and small firms alike need to learn to treat customers with respect. Keep fighting the good fight.

  3. Simply brilliant. Thanks for opening my eyes Jim.

  4. I experienced the frustration of the UK banks… so difficult to leave even when you are exiting the country!…

    Fortunately or unfortunately the UK banks in my experience also make it difficult to join?

    Best to make it easy to join and incredibly easy and attractive to stay on…


    • They are easy to join, Geoff. It’s switching that is made deliberately awkward. UK banks are supposedly easier to switch from now, but decades of fear mean many people settle for substandard service rather than ‘risk’ it.

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