Don’t Freeze Your Customers!


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Choice is a building block of society. In a brilliant talk, Professor Renata Salecl discusses the dark side of choice. The three problems Professor Salecl has with choice are that it provokes anxiety, increases indecision, and involves loss. Much of her insight about choice also applies to the markets.

Have you ever gotten lost trying to buy a camera on Amazon? There are literally hundreds of cameras to choose from on the website. The camera purchase on Amazon is an excellent example to illustrate Professor Salecl’s points about choice. Choice can freeze consumers into a state of indecision.

Anxiety occurs when the customer considers what friends and family might think of his decision. He will want them to validate his purchase as the “right” decision. Amazon’s extensive reviews are most likely a result of this anxiety. Members want to help others make “right” decision.

Additionally, the customer wants to make ideal or “right” choice, when in fact there are very few, if any, guaranteed “right” choices in life. If something goes wrong with the camera, the consumer will assume that he made the “wrong” decision and will feel guilty because of it.

Finally, choice always involves loss. Economists refer to “opportunity cost,” which refers to the opportunities one forgoes by pursuing another. So when the customer buys the camera, he has to sacrifice other options and experience buyer remorse.

Professor Salecl is not the only scholar to problematize choice. Researchers at Columbia and Stanford produced a landmark study called “When Choice is Demotivating: Can One Desire Too Much of a Good Thing?” In the study they offered one group of participants six different types of gourmet jams. A second group was offered thirty selections to taste! The conclusion is striking. The researches, like Salecl, found that “participants actually reported greater subsequent satisfaction with their selections when their original set of options had been limited.” In other words less choice resulted in greater consumer satisfaction.

None of this sounds appealing. Personally, I don’t want to choose from 30 different kinds of jam at the grocery store or have a panic attack when I buy a camera. I can see two ways out of this quagmire: one way is through branding a product; the second way is popularity. The two solutions are not mutually exclusive.

As I’ve stated over and over in my books, the best way to create lifetime value in your company is through customer loyalty. Loyalty, which I define as the customer’s decision to stick with a business when presented superior opportunity, creates a win-win situation for the consumer.

If you have spent the time to get to know your customer through Moment Mapping, he or she doesn’t have to feel remorse for staying loyal to you. Over time, this kind of customer loyalty transforms your company’s image and brand, and it makes your company popular with the right kind of consumer – one that will stay loyal and refer you to others (for free!), boosting your Net Promoter Score.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


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