There are multiple “channels” by which an interest in buying a product creeps into our mind, but it is often a desire to experience functions and features of this product, and a promise of making our lives better, that makes us consider to part with our money. Hence if our expectations are not met by actual product experience, we often feel cheated and express dissatisfaction with the product. Sometimes it’s caused by actual and intentional misrepresentation of a product’s functionality, but more often it is misinterpretation of marketing messages associated with the product by a Customer.
No person decides to purchase a product expecting it to be “dead on arrival”, but it happens more often than you think. There is no way to know what is the expectation of every Customer for longevity of a product, but I can bet that at a minimum it is at least 1 day longer that the length of the product’s warranty. However, longevity is only one parameter of the Customer Reliability expectation. The other one is availability of the product for use or experience. Consider an example where a product breaks (i.e. is not available for use) during its reasonable life expectancy, and the Customer has to send it in for replacement or repair. Even more troubling are the instances when the loss of use is accompanied by associated damages or losses of perishable products, data, reputation or business opportunities, etc.
I consider Reliability reputation the single most important factor in my personal purchasing decisions as a failure to consider it very carefully can result in the most damage and unhappiness.
While there are ambiguities of Customer misinterpretations of Functionality messages, and a factor of Customer inexperience that may lead to negative Reliability experiences, there is no excuse for creating negative Support experiences. A Customer, rightfully, expects delivery at the stated time, respect for promised exchange and refund policies, and most importantly knowledgeable help from people who are genuinely interested in helping out. Unfortunately many companies treat Customer Support as the cost factor to be reduced, instead of an opportunity to learn and correct potential shortcomings in the product’s design and its messaging. This unwise strategy leads to commoditization of their markets, destruction of their brand value and profit margins as the Customer starts to look at their products as “disposable”.
Reputation is one of the most valuable assets of any company – It takes significant time and effort to build a good reputation. Great company reputation provides an opportunity for higher profit margins, as trust in your product improves, and allows less discounting and advertising expense compared to less reputable competition.
Higher sales becomes a result of Confidence in your product’s quality, reliability and support – as opposed to its price.
The only way to build Reputation is to provide your Customers with Experiences that consistently exceed their Expectations.