People Aren’t Buying What You’re Selling

shopOkay, you make a great product or provide a very unique service. You’re in love with it and so are your customers. It’s a wonderful product/service. I get it. Now get over it. Because your customers aren’t buying it. They’re buying things you aren’t even selling.

I met with one of the top digital communications companies in the U.S. on Friday to discuss how to improve performance in their many call centers. They were measuring the standard things – call length, one-call resolution %, wait time, abandonment, after-call time, # of transfers, etc. The objective was to get the stats to go down.

The problem was that every call center director had been given the directive to figure it out locally, under the assumption that giving them ownership of the problem would create a better solution (which is like telling 12 different manufacturing facilities to produce their computers any way they want – disastrous idea). I told Corporate that my belief, without even looking at them, was that the call center with the highest quality of customer service was creating as many problems as the call center with the lowest quality of customer service. How could that be?

Because their customers aren’t buying the HIGHEST QUALITY product or service, they are buying the most CONSISTENT EXPERIENCE. We’re all out there trying to sell the best made chair, the greatest insurance, the grandest piano, and the slickest software. But our customers aren’t buying what we’re selling.

Don’t believe me?

What percentage of Americans would you say think McDonalds sells the BEST hamburger? Probably none. Yet they make billions, because we know that every McDonalds window you drive up to will produce the same hamburger coast to coast. It may not be the best, but it’s the same every time – reliable, consistent, and average. We can count on it and McDonalds can take it to the bank. Ray Crock had a motto on the wall in his office “In Pursuit of the Most Efficient Hamburger in the World.” Notice it did not say the BEST hamburger. We don’t buy quality from McDonalds, we buy consistency.

We don’t buy quality from Nordstrom’s either. Surprised? While Nordstrom’s sells higher quality goods, we’re buying the “Nordstrom’s experience”. There are dozens of other retailers selling the same stuff, but every time we go to Nordstrom’s we get that same legendary experience. We’re buying consistency there, too, not quality.

Every wonder how really awful, cheap products, as well as outrageously over-priced products keep being successful? Because we’re buying consistency, not quality. We have a minimum quality level expectation of both Nordstrom’s and McDonalds (at much different levels), but the thing that has created long term success for both is the consistency of the experience.

This is one of the reasons Microsoft is losing market share to Apple. Apple’s quality has always been higher, but people are really buying the consistency of experience they can’t get from Microsoft.

A realtor once gave a weekend away to a friend for having referred a high-end house to them. They told another friend who referred a house, and they were given a large gift certificate to a high-end department store. They were disappointed. Even though both gifts cost the realtor the same amount of money, they second person was expecting the same experience as the first – a weekend away. Consistency is so important.

Do you have a written Customer Satisfaction Process in place that creates a consistent experience for everyone every time? If not, stop working on making your product so great, and start pouring your energies into creating that consistent customer experience. The guy who makes the best chair does not have the loyalist following. It’s the guy who “manufactures” the best, most consistent customer experience.

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