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The Value of Free

This weekend, I turned on my cable box to find that I was now receiving about 20 more high definition channels than in the past. I could now watch wonderful shows like Rescue Me or Dirty Jobs in HD. And the best part of this was Cablevision provided this upgrade without additional charge to me.

Every now and then a company surprises you by doing something wonderful that, in your eyes, was completely unnecessary. If I’m already a customer, why does a company go out of its way to do something for me? But why are we so surprised — it makes a lot of sense. When a company improves its service without any monetary grain it benefits from improved customer loyalty. More importantly, the company is now providing a better product to win the public’s heart and to gain the advantage over its competitor.

Whether it is Apple’s iPhone Application store with free third-party software, free coupons printed on pharmacy or supermarket receipts, or even Popeye’s automated registers that will sell customers additional food at a discount, companies are benefiting from providing more.

Now if you excuse me, I have to go watch Mad Men.

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