Consumer behavior used to be a course that marketing folks took in 2nd year of Bschool.
I stayed away , like most other marketing courses.
But over the years, time and again I have seen the importance of understanding the consumer behavior – why do consumers behave a specific way, why and how are habits formed, are all habits sticky, what would prompt a habit change and so on.
My Online Bill Payments Behaviour
Recently I just noticed something interesting about how I pay my bills. It brought up the importance of consumer behavior yet again.
So here’s what happened.
Every month I end up paying some 5-6 different mobile/landline and a couple of DTH bills.
A few years back I started paying the Airtel bills online – the process was easy and it was the same interface for all Airtel Payments – mobile or landline.
Just one drawback – there was no “Make another transaction” button.
One had to go back to home page, and start the flow again. I shared this with my friends at Airtel Money and quite a coincidence that this button was added on their web page (they confirmed that my raising it with them had nothing to do with the feature going live).
Since then its been how I have paid all my Airtel bills.
On the other hand, my experience with TATA Sky’s online payment was horrible to say the least.
During one such failed attempt, I remembered about Paytm and decided to use it.
And boy was it an amazingly designed service.
- The UI was really neat and intuitive.
- Credit Cards were masked and stored for easy subsequent payments. One just needs to repunch the CVV and the Verified by VISA passwords.
- Old payments were stored and it was super easy to bring up an old payment and make a fresh one against the same DTH/mobile account.
- In case of a failed payment to the service provider, the amount is kept in a Paytm virtual wallet that is “automatically”(this is true customer delight) picked up first during any subsequent payments and only the delta amount is required to be paid by the card.
Needless to say my bill payments have migrated to Paytm .
But not all.
I suddenly realized that my de-facto reaction when making the Airtel payments was still to go to the Airtel website and not PayTm. This was strange because from a rational perspective I had no reason to not switch my Airtel payments also to PayTm.
And this got me wondering.
- I am not really loyal to the Airtel website, its just a question of habit I guess. Its not a strong habit to the extent that one can explain it through muscle memory. But the reality is that I followed the above steps without thinking much – picked up the bill, went to the Airtel site, paid and got it done with.
- Is my behavior sticky with Airtel because they managed to get to me first and delivered a decent experience? If yes, then the first-mover-advantage for consumer services should be the possible stickiness-hurdle it creates for new entrants.
- Has PayTm got me as a dedicated customer for their wallet services? Would I choose to pay at lets say Myntra (flipkart has its own wallet and Snapdeal is working on one) through a PayTm wallet? I am not too sure.
- Although I am an avid Android user with a lot of apps that I use regularly but I still don’t have the PayTm app on my phone. Why? I am not sure. But I remember seeing their messages online and have seen their app in the Google Playstore also. Again no logic to explain this behavior. Wouldn’t the guy in charge of Data Analytics at PayTm be looking at my profile and thinking this guy probably doesn’t have a smartphone or a 3G connection.
- Now that I have spent some time thinking about my strange behavior, would I go back to the Airtel site or migrate to PayTm? What do you think?
I have long since downloaded the PayTm app and it is now the default way to make ALL bill payments including the Airtel one(s). I no longer wait (or bother) for the bill to be delivered – PayTm manages my bill presentment and payment experience end to end.