Inconsistency Repels Customers
By Jeremy Miller
When you peel back the onion of your life, you will
find a series of habits. Most are ingrained and unconscious. You just do them.
From brushing your teeth to driving to work to the foods you eat. Every day you
operate with a series of routines.
Habits save energy. Do you recall your trip to work
this morning? I don’t. I remember getting in my car, and I remember parking in
front of the elevators at my office. But for the life of me, I can’t remember
my trip to work. I was on autopilot. It makes sense though. I didn’t need to
use a lot of cognitive horsepower to get to work. I have made the drive
countless times before; it was routine.
For me, a forgettable drive to work is a good drive to
work. Nothing slowed me down. I didn’t get frustrated. I didn’t get distracted.
I just went through the paces and arrived at my desk without interruption.
Marketers understand the power of consistency. When you
walk in a McDonalds you are greeted with a familiar scent, familiar colors,
familiar store layout and a familiar level of service. It doesn’t matter which
McDonalds you go into, they all have the same feeling. It’s so systematized
that you don’t even have to think about your order. You can select your
favorite combo: 1, 2, 3 or 4.
McDonalds’ consistent brand experience is very
powerful. It may not be the healthiest choice, but you know exactly what you’re
getting – and that’s comforting. You don’t have to explore a new restaurant and
risk being disappointed. You don’t have to go hunting for something to eat. You
just walk in, order the usual and quickly satisfy your needs.
leads to dissonance
Marketers harp on brand consistency with good reason.
It’s jarring for customers when their expectations aren’t met.
Inconsistencies can happen in the most mundane places.
A blog that hasn’t been updated in six months. A sales person that doesn’t
follow up after a sales call. A product that breaks down after a few short
Many sales have been lost due to poor corporate
websites. The sales person can do everything right: call the economic buyer,
establish a need, develop a value proposition and make a competitive bid. But
he can lose the deal when the customer visits the corporate website, and has a
less than stellar experience. The disconnected experiences create dissonance in
the customer’s mind. The customer begins to doubt the sales person and second
guesses the company’s credibility, because these two brand experiences were not
requires too much effort
Inconsistency takes up too much mental effort. When
things don’t happen as we expect, we are forced to turn on our brains and make
decisions. That’s uncomfortable. There are better things we could be doing with
our time and energy.
As customers face dissonance they have a choice: deal
with the problem or leave. If they can delay or avoid the decision, they will.
This results in lost or delayed purchases.
There’s a simple lesson here: brand consistency is
manageable. Do an audit and review each of your customer touch points. Is each
point consistent and does it fit your customers’ expectations?
yes, great. Keep up the good work and be vigilant in maintaining these
no, get better. Every time your customer faces inconsistency you risk
Re-posted with permission from the author Jeremy