by Roger Pynn
I love it when my wife and her cousins get together because they represent the best female focus group I’ve ever seen. The men folk just sit back and listen and smile … waiting for their pearls of wisdom … and as they gathered last weekend after a family funeral, they did not disappoint us when the conversation turned to washing machines.
Their universal disgust over front-loading washing machines that use less water to clean clothes … ostensibly an environmental benefit … turned quickly to a discussion of the seeming inability of manufacturers to explain to you how their products work.
Think about it. When was the last time you bought anything … a washer and dryer, a computer, a flat screen television or a juicer – that came with simple instructions that actually helped you understand how it worked?
Our little focus group concluded that lousy instructions are perhaps the No. 1 reason they very rarely buy the same brand the next time around. If only manufacturers could sit in my living room, they’d figure out pretty quickly that customer service isn’t something at the end of an 800 number.
Everything you do communicates … far too often, poorly. We’re fond of talking about our Five Steps to Professional Success. The first one says “Focus on what keeps the client awake at night.” For us, that means our clients … but also our clients’ customers. End users become one of two things almost from the instant you close the sale: fanatical fans or loud critics.
Fanatical fans take up a lot less of your time on complaint lines and customer service hotlines if you worry about what keeps them awake at night … i.e., how to make your eco-friendly products do their job. YouTube is full of videos criticizing these manufacturers. Too bad there aren’t fanatics out there showing how much they love their new washers.