Switching barriers are factors that make it difficult or inconvenient for customers to switch from one product or service to another. These barriers can take many forms, including costs, contractual obligations, risks, and disruptions to service. From a seller’s perspective, switching barriers can help prevent customers from leaving and allow the company to charge higher prices. Some companies may even intentionally create barriers to switching, such as by imposing fees or making it difficult to close an account, in order to make it harder for customers to leave.
From a customer’s perspective, switching barriers can be a source of frustration and expose them to higher prices, unfair terms, reductions in benefits, or degradation of service. In some cases, industries with high switching barriers may be subject to government regulation in order to protect consumers from unfair practices.
Overall, switching barriers can have significant implications for both buyers and sellers in a market. Customers may face barriers to switching that make it difficult for them to find the best product or service for their needs, while sellers may use these barriers to maintain their market position and charge higher prices. In many cases, it is important for customers to be aware of switching barriers and be prepared to take steps to overcome them in order to find the best product or service for their needs. The following are some common types of switching barriers.
The time and expense of learning about a new product or service. If you purchase a new type of mobile device, you need to learn its interfaces.
The requirement to get a new product or service working with everything else you own. For example, importing your data into software.
The need to configure and customize the new product or service.
The need to create things for the new product or service. For example, the need to develop software to use a new database product.
Productivity & Efficiency
A decrease in productivity and efficiency due to the process of learning and integrating a new product or service. For example, a salesperson works more slowly after switching to a new type of sales automation software.
The potential for your customer services, marketing or operations to go offline as you make changes or switch over.
Risks associated with a new product or service. If you try a new shampoo, you may risk a bad hair day.
Penalties charged by your current provider such as a cancellation fee. It is common for firms such as telecom companies to attempt to increase switching costs to retain customers, even if they are dissatisfied. Firms with high switching costs may have little incentive to improve customer satisfaction.