The Customer is often deluded and sometimes a right ...


One of the most saccharine pieces of prose is "the customer is always right."

Even at face value, there are logical fallacies.

Let's dig a little. Firstly, a customer seems to represent someone who does repeat business, rather than a one time purchase. The purchaser is always right ...that just won't work.

I can see the heuristic (mental shortcut) value.

It is the same categorization as the child, woman, vulnerable party, is always initially deemed correct. It implies an initial pre-judgement call in favor of a more vulnerable party. This allows a space to investigate. It weights the valence.

The vendor is always correct seems a little too asinine and dangerous. Given the choice between two weevils, we chose the lesser weevil.

On further investigation issues become a lot more complex. Entire systems of thought get built on very shaky frameworks; co-join the words "arab" +"terrorist" and "dirty"+"jew," and see where it takes you. C"mon don't be prudish now...we're looking at influence peddling. A little mental experiment won't break your patriotic resolve.

Going from the theoretical to the everyday is a good segue...

A common customer complaint about our app is that the subscription pricing structure is "a pain in the ass." Complaining customers say they would rather have a one time fee. How much does it cost for exGoogle developers on a weekly salary paid in one time fees?

The issue is based on some causal assumptions. The first assumption is that our app is included in the hardware price. The second is that we make a profit on hardware. The third minor one (they're not really convinced here and can't enunciate the thought) is that mobile "apps" should be free.

All are incorrect.

"The Carista-branded adapter is the only one we tested, then, that offers both iPhone compatibility and the extended Carista "mod" functions...
Cheap adapters are almost all based on the ELM327 design, but Elm charges $15 just for the chip in bulk, so it shouldn't be surprising if a $9 buy-it-now-bargain doesn't use a genuine

The complaining customer wants to believe that he or she has been bilked. It is part of the "well I oughta..." persona. Developing a grievance based on a rudimentary flawed logic, covered by equally tawdry emotion, spewed forth on a public platform (often Facebook). Facebook is like jam for flies in this regard.

The logic goes something like this; "You can buy a cheap chinese adapter on Amazon for six bucks so what am I payin for...goddammit."

The fact that chinese (no insult intended - I'm extrapolating) equates more readily to "copied" barely matters. What matters is solely price and physical description. "I love my wife. I love pringles. Therefore it would be cheaper to pay for pringles,"has about as much validity.

The custom is that I cannot explain this to the irate customer, I need to pacify (yes like a baby throwing a tantrum) them ...that is the part of the heuristic where I bite, hard.

This is not "Bubba" who lives in an Airstream trailer. This is someone who can, at minimum, afford a down-payment on an Audi. It doesn't matter that the customer's car costs 30k or their lunch was 30 USD, minus the tip. The comparison in OBD adapters (or whatever product you sell - the same works for high spec custom yachts, real estate and budget hotels ) is negatively correlated and focused solely on money. "I can get this thing for cheaper." (Translation) You can some thing for cheaper, but not this.

This is the famous "loss aversion" psychology so wittily covered by Dan Ariely (and many others). There is no associative element to "software." Way too vague. We do get the "...and your software is shit too" complaint. But that comes from "complete"idiots. Most people figure them quite quickly, so it lacks the public punch in the face. Similar to being heckled by a drunk, loud but incoherent.

It doesn't matter what the quality is, the object is driving down the price.
Every sales book, ever, deals with this topic.

The same customer can reel off the options available on the top end devices, but seems to have a Richard Nixon on the attached price-lists.

Except, we're not really selling adapters. We don't take a margin on the device. It is sold at cost.

It is purely a vehicle to sell automotive software. The customer is actually getting a bargain, but not interested enough to gather the pertinent facts.

* * *

Let me revisit the first assumption for a moment. The supposition goes that I buy my software for my car and all is dandy. It is linear; car + software = "magic"

Once more we are back to really simple logic and negative correlations in terms of value. The value itself is unknown. The software works (as in performs the function requested). Complainants want it to work always as it does now, in a rapidly evolving sector. Which they know, because their car is a late model (fill in the blank).

The request here is for a "magic box"...for less than $20 USD. More approachable than the "cheapness argument,"because you can explain what the thing does and how it does it.

I'm going to finish on one last thing. The desire of the "customer" to get you, publicly. I was once Honda's No.1 customer complaints person in all of Europe (consider Honda US as a fair comparison). I received one "complaint" in nearly two years of over thirty calls a day.

The customer wanted to put "his dead mother's car in his name." Note: he didn't own it. It wasn't in his name or had been legally jointly owned. According to Mr.X it was "willed." I was not willing to give information to him (especially as he "appeared to be" a snide little prick). He pushed a complaint to management, specifically about me, to the point that my job was on the line (pun intended). I was called to listen to the original call recording in front of management. For what? To get some low rent call handler fired and gain petty "revenge?" If I did give the information I would have lost the job.

"A customer may have pretty shitty motives" - don't see that on many bumper stickers.

Actually, (true story) a guy once complained to me (in a fast food restaurant) that he didn't want a plastic knife and fork. I gave him metal ones. Soon after he used them to attack a middle aged woman and her son sitting at the next table. It ended OK.

* Let's go with Customers are often right.