Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Irresponsibility of the Customer

The success or failure of any brand depends to a large degree on the discipline of the customer.   The firm can provide an excellent product, capable of effectively and efficiently serving a genuine need – but in order for it to do so, it must be selected and employed in the proper manner.  In many instances of customer dissatisfaction, one or both of these tasks have been failed.

Dissatisfaction often occurs because the customer selected the wrong product.   They had unrealistic expectations about the benefit that the product is capable of delivering – and while the general sense seems to be that it is because of false advertising (the company claimed its product would deliver benefits it could not), this is actually quite seldom the case: the customer came with his own expectations or was misinformed by a third party about the benefits the product delivered.   This is a marketing problem, a failure to communicate the value of the product to the market.

Dissatisfaction also occurs when the product is not employed in the proper manner – or in plainer terms, when the product is used wrongly such that the desired benefit, which the product is perfectly capable of delivering, is not achieved because the product was not used in the proper manner.   This is a growing problem, culturally, because customers largely do not bother reading instructions and think that they already know how to use a product they have never used before (or have never used correctly, anyway).

Both of these issues are difficult to address in the current environment: the general attitude seems to be that the customer, like a precious child, is incapable of doing anything wrong and inculpable even when his actions were obviously wrong.    If he selected the wrong product, he is innocent and it’s the fault of the brand for having given him the wrong expectations (even if there is no evidence of their having done so).   If he used it the wrong way, he is innocent and it is the fault of the brand for not having instructed him properly (even if they ignored the instructions on the packaging).

And I see no easy solution to this problem.   Firms are already putting extraordinary effort into communicating the value of their product in an accurate manner, attempting to design their products intuitively, and providing copious amounts of documentation and instructional materials.   And still, customer satisfaction has not appreciable increased – in fact, the marginal success due to the efforts of producers has created a sense of entitlement – that it’s OK for the customer to be irresponsible because the firm will always be blamed for the customer’s lack of responsibility.

If there is any bright side to this, it is that the core customer base of a firm, those who are satisfied and repurchase the same brand, are likely responsible customers who have accepted the responsibility of selecting the appropriate product and employing it correctly.    The most irresponsible customers will likely never be satisfied by any brand, and will invariably drift from one to another, bumbling about in search of a solution they will never find.

No comments:

Post a Comment