We want comfort. At work, at the gas station, and in social settings. Statements that begin with “I’m not comfortable with…” are all too common. A certain level is expected in life, even though a lot of people don’t have it. Let’s assume for the purposes of this argument that the person has a normal job, a house, and two cars (I am not trying to solve poverty with this post). As with many things in this world, it all comes back to power. Do we have the power to change the way companies interact with us? Are there exceptions that are allowed based on circumstances? Is the industry too regulated to allow such adjustments?
I constantly see companies making it easier for the customer to open accounts and communicate with their business. Live chats on websites and 24/7 social media presence has raised the expectation. One company offers additional or different services to compete against others. Those that don’t adjust to the wildly demanding customer base will end up losing customers. These customers can move their accounts to another company with ease. The varied sizes of start-ups and major players make it easy to take advantage of the opposite. If a company is half the size of the competitor, they can charge less for the same level of service because of lower overhead costs. Maybe the smaller company has an efficient modern system for housing and manipulating the data. This would make changes to accounts much easier for the customer. In the meantime, the large company is in the process of updating to these new systems from legacy systems. The programmers desperately use several “bridges” in the software which tend to fail in times of high volume.
The differences all come down to what the customers wants. Some people want a more financially secure company with a wider range of products, even if the price is higher. Some shoppers are constantly looking for that lowest price so they can feed the four kids at home without breaking the bank. The other large change in the customer base is how the type of interaction has changed. A growing number of people, mostly younger adults, want to complete everything online. This creates a problem for a company that has been providing in-person service for a larger portion of the customers. The surface level applications will get a face-lift, but the internal processes of manually applying changes to accounts bottleneck productivity. What is your favorite way to conduct business? Does is vary based on the type of business?
In the extreme versions of this idea, the customer may think they “deserve” or are “entitled” to a service. Depending on the industry, the local or federal law may be on their side. There are many protections to keep businesses from charging absurd fees and taking unethical actions. However, many times the customer is comparing their experience with a different company. This leads to making large assumptions that don’t generally hold true. I do wonder sometimes if this is a location-dependent response or a more cultural update of a different customer base. Do you think your location in the country or the world makes an impact on the way you expect to be treated as a customer? Where does personal responsibility come in? Does it appear at all in this new world?
Let me know what you think! I am curious about these things.