Thursday, May 31, 2018

Dissatisfaction and Psychological Motivation

The greatest and most certain source of customer dissatisfaction is the failure of a product to satisfy the need for which it was purchased – which in turn has many possible causes, the first of which is the misidentification or misunderstanding of need and the criteria by which the need will be fulfilled.  This occurs more often where the product is a good (which the customer lacks the skills to successfully employ, or even to select the right good) but is also quite common in services (when the customer has provided incorrect or insufficient information for the service provider to take the correct action).

The problem begins in the process of selection: the customer is unable to choose the correct product because he does not know what will solve his need – sales can be of some assistance, but because sales tends to focus on “selling” it’s rare to encounter a sales professional whose ethics can overpower his mercenary interest in talking to the customer out of buying the wrong product.   A perfect product, proficiently employed, cannot result in satisfaction if it is the wrong product in the first place.

To back it up another step, to select the right product to serve a need, one must understand the need – if the need is not understood, everything after it (the purchasing and use process) cannot succeed except by accident.

Where needs are practical, satisfaction of need is fairly straightforward because the problem can be objectively diagnosed and the results objectively assessed – the use of the product effected the exact change that was desired.  I would propose that for the great majority of products in the present day. 

But where the needs are psychological, satisfaction of need can be extremely difficult.  Who can say, with certainty, what will cause a desired change in emotional state – to make a person happy, or to mitigate their anger, even when that person is oneself?   And how can person who means to serve another know what their psychological state is and how it can be positively affected?  

It seems a trivial thing, but it likely has a very large financial impact on developed markers.  Given the evolution of customer services, we are as a culture extremely good at diagnosing and correcting functional problems – and I would posit that, with some exceptions, the “kings” have been worked out of most product experiences insofar as their ability to satisfy the customer’s functional need - they at least have the capability to solve the need if selected and employed appropriately, by objective and observable criteria.

Thus considered, it is the emotional criteria that are the most likely cause of the greater proportion of customer satisfaction in the present day.   It is not that the product does not deliver its functional purpose, but that its employment does not address the psychological need for which it was sought, not was the correct product even selected because the need was not sufficiently understood.

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