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High-Damage, 1%-Chance Risks

One of the more unfortunate things about people is the intersection of responding to incentives and recognition primarily, thinking short-term in time, and not reasoning through events that don't happen.

When an engineer or surveyor goes on and on about improving earthquake or hurricane measures, they're generally perceived as a nag, burden, and hassle -- until you get a bad hurricane or earthquake that costs lives, causes immense human misery, and does millions to billions of dollars in possibly preventable damage.

In business, you wind up with lots of these too. There's dozens of little things that only have a 1% chance of occurring, but the majority of people will perceive you as a hassle if you try to bring them up.

For instance, a friend of mine owns a large bilingual IT firm in a highly developed, non-English country. 

At the advice of one of his mentors, he moved his salespeople's commission structure from the old system that was based just on revenues, to one that had "diversification" as a criteria. This was because his firm was doing most of their business with just a few very large clients, and they had immense leverage over his company. And if one of them should switch providers, they'd have gotten hit with a serious crunch, and potentially would have had to lay some of their excellent team that had taken many years to build.

The Future of Customer Loyalty: Dynamic Pricing with a Hedge

On DROdio

I went to get my car washed today in freezing weather, the day of a massive snow storm about to hit DC. Needless to say, nobody else was there. (Why did I do this? Because the car desperately needed to be waxed + interior cleaned, and I'm not in DC for long). The experience got me thinking about dynamic pricing and customer loyalty.

Businesses typically try to use frequent-purchase tactics to drive loyalty, like a "buy 9 get 1 free" card or, in the case of airlines, frequent flyer miles. But I believe there's a better way to drive deep loyalty while at the same time maximizing the revenue a business gets: Dynamic pricing, with a Hedge. Here's what I mean:

As I mention in the video above, to say it was a slow day at the car wash facility would be putting it nicely -- I must've been one of only a couple dozen customers they would have the entire day. It's expensive to keep a carwash open on a day like today, including paying at least 10 employees to sit around and do nothing.

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