Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dealing Mrs Doubtful - Marketing that did'nt...PART 1

A woman walks into a convenience store. She walks straight to the manager and asks, "Do you have any small note-books?"
says the manager. "We're all out."
The woman shrugs, and asks, "Well, do you have any mechanical pencils?"
"Nope, don't have that either," says the manager.
The woman feels her stomach rumbling and asks, "Do you have Geometry boxes?"
The manager shrugs, "Sorry."
"Hmmph. How about colouring books?" says the woman.
"Nope. Don't have that."
"Wow!" the woman shouts, "If you don't have anything, you should close the stupid store!"
The manager shrugs, "Don't have the key."

Let us call her Mrs. Doubtful. She wanders around the apparels shop or a white goods show room with mind full of doubt and suspicion and no one to attend to her. She symbolizes a large group of customers everywhere, in every business premise, wanting to decide and buy but unable to.

Marketing research has always tried to dissect and analyze various types of customers, and have come up with dictums like "the customer is always right” and “every customer is equal”. The same group who professes ‘value creation and delivery for customers’ classified them as platinum, gold, silver, copper, sand and even muck (let God forgive this modern day apartheid). Apparently the focus is on value to the seller (Marketer) and not the idiot who is the buyer….

Some have classified customers based on their response patterns- like Meek, Aggressive, High roller, Rip off and chronic complainer. Christopher Lovelock coined the term JAY customers to refer to dysfunctional customers who deliberately or unintentionally disrupt service in a manner that negatively affects the organization or other customers. So the rules are changing. Kings and queens, at least them who are not worth their cost of maintenance have been dethroned. Here let me introduce to you a new set or customers- Mrs. Doubtful.

Mrs. doubtful – who is responsible?

Some businesses are of high contact types, where the interaction with the customer is high and the contact points and occasions that the customer has to meet the with the organization is high. A savings bank account can be taken as an example. Here the chances of trouble between the two are more and the service provider, in many cases, takes Mrs. doubtful for a ride mercilessly. You and me have experienced that and have felt releived and good to do the ATM and NET banking types.. atleast we can avoid the barking from the other side of the counter....

Medium contact type businesses like an insurance service or post purchase stages of having bought a hi-fi music system has less calamity in terms of Mrs. doubtful getting an unfair treatment. That is except when the system refuses to sing and the seller showing a cold attitude to her calls. Her consideration set is long and vivid, and these days’ even durables look like FMCG’s with the brand influx and hence decision is long pending and she remains doubtful until the purchase.( even after that but it is a different case altogether)

Almost zero contact types like for instance a shampoo brand or a fairness soap (even failing to deliver those glorified promises) will result in almost no commotion at all.There is a better shampoo with a better promise and there is a better fairness soap with a better hope on sale and Mrs Doubtful simply have no doubts on them, she just walks in....

So the lack of differentiation and the resulting identity crisis that many brands across product categories suffer from is the main contributor for the existence of Mrs. Doubtful. The levels of doubts becomes deep and hard as the product category becomes complex, moving from habitual and variety seeking (Ref: Henry assael’s model in Philip Kotler), but the doubt exists, nevertheless.

Technology in many cases adds to the doubts. CRM methods- of course the modern IT enabled ones-in many cases leaves existing customers unhappy, who spreads their dissatisfaction among others, including Mrs.doubtful, causing more doubts in her types....

Companies in their quest for expanding their customer base often forget existing customers and run behind new ones, leaving them unhappy and causing more and more doubtfuls. Remember the old saying- an unhappy customer is your worst publicity. Old sayings are better left in the past... at least that is what our Marketing guys seem to be doing....


1 comment:

Boban Ignatius said...

great one , Sabu!!!

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