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Are Your Customers Happy?

September 22, 2008  

Get behind the wheel of any luxury car today, and you'll face a dashboard and console packed with buttons that run elaborate climate control, stereo and navigation systems. On paper all these options sound great—in practice, though, attempting to operate increasingly complicated electronics might leave many drivers frustrated and annoyed, yearning for the days of a few dials and a couple of knobs.

In a post at Harvard Business Online, Rita McGrath argues that one way to improve customer experience—and something few of us consider—is to take away something they find negative. She offers the example of a new PC packed with pre-installed software you don't want. "Getting rid of it is fiddly and time-consuming and exposes you to the risk of deleting something you really do need from your system," she says.

It has become such an issue, notes McGrath, that Best Buy has a prominent in-store display that offers to remove all the excess software for a fee. "[Y]ou get a nice, clean, machine which only has exactly what you wanted. No slow starts, no baffling come-ons for software you don't know you need (or do you?) and no confusing competition among three (or more) programs that do the same thing." A once-tolerable feature has become intolerable, and a retailer discovered there's money to be made in resolving a problem that originates with the supplier.

Your Marketing Inspiration: "I always encourage companies to think about whether the new things they are adding to their offers really benefit the customer or not," says McGrath. "If not, it runs the risk of being a tolerated, disliked, or ultimately hated feature that can put your company at a competitive disadvantage."

More Inspiration:
Ted Mininni: Obsessive Compulsive Marketers?
Peter Kim: 226
Elaine Fogel: New Study Says Marketers Expected to Cut Budgets


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