Friday, July 27, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
In that instance, it is largely a matter of magnitude - a customer doesn't demand a three-cent discount at a deli because he opted not to have mustard on his sandwich, but he might be outraged at a $20/night "resort fee" at a hotel to pay for a pool, sauna, and workout room that he never used during a week-long visit (which hotels get away with because of business travelers who expense their bill and don't pay much attention - another factor entirely).
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Sunday, July 15, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Predictability is extolled by user experience and customer service, but seems to be understood in a superficial manner and applied inconsistently – when it is efficient to be predictable. My sense is it’s important not only to operational efficiency but to customer service, and should be more pervasive within the customer service principles of an organization, possibly within its principles as an organization.
On the small scale, we recognize that customers value predictability in a transaction. When a customer gathers products into a virtual shopping cart, they predict that each item they added will be listed in the shopping cart when they are ready to check out. Omit one of their selections on check-out, and customers will be frustrated. Add something to their cart that they didn’t select, and they will be furious. This is because what they predicted did not happen.
The same is true of the customer experience of each individual product. The customer chose to purchase the product because he predicted that it would enable him to solve a problem or fill a need. If this prediction turns out to be false, the customer will not repurchase. At best, he will accept responsibility for making a poor product selection, but his experience of using the product will be unsatisfactory all the same.
The same is true on the broader scale: customers purchase products and services or choose to interact with a firm based on their predictions. They predict that they are going to get something in return for what they give, and the “something” goes beyond the physical properties of the product to the need/benefit that motivated the customer to make the purchase from a given supplier. Where their predictions are correct, they are satisfied. Where their predictions are incorrect, they are not.
Companies also predict their customers behavior, chiefly that they will being paid per the agreement. A company that is not paid for its goods is furious, but has greater resource and support from the legal system to force the customer to render payment than does a customer who, at best, can request a refund of the purchase price, but no other compensation. Companies may also predict that customers will be delighted with their service offering and encourage others to purchase from them, and generally become frustrated or furious when this does not happen, regardless of their own behavior in the transaction – but this may be a separate topic.
The scale can be broadened even further: customer satisfaction with a firm is based on their predictions about the value they will receive from the goods; employee satisfaction is based on their prediction about the way in which they will be compensated and developed by the firm; supplier satisfaction is based on their prediction about the way in which the firm will behave as their customer; investor satisfaction is based on the fulfillment of their predictions about the financial return on their investment in the firm; and community satisfaction is based on the fulfillment of their predictions about the firm’s behavior as a corporate citizen.
Predictability is about trust – or more accurately, trust requires predictability. People of all these groups (consumers, employees, suppliers, investors, and the general public) choose to interact with a firm based on their predictions about its behavior. They choose to continue to interact with a firm based on whether it has been predictable in the past (and generally, that the prediction resulted in a positive outcome for themselves as well as the firm).
Where a firm does not act in a predictable manner, it is not trusted – and when a firm is not trusted, people cease interacting with it, and the firm can no longer exist. As such, predictability is critical not only to the success of a firm in gaining and retaining loyal customers, but in surviving at all.