Disconnected from consumers

Huge organizations and me don’t get along. They’re too inflexible, waste too much time, and have too many stupid people. (Haruki Murakami, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World)

After some recent mishaps with Vodafone, I’ve started thinking about how disconnected most companies are from their customers. Marketing theory, especially with the introduction of co-creation, has been advocating the need to be close to consumers, to understand them, their needs, to collaborate with them and find better solutions to their problems. And yet, to this day, most companies are still so focused on profits, on rules and procedures, that their interactions seem completely devoid of any human element, or even rationality, which leads of course to extreme dissatisfaction, frustration and negative behaviors on the side of the consumers.

Moneywise put together some absurd company replies in the attempt to compensate their customers. It’s a hilarious list, and it does mostly show extreme cases, but it makes you wonder how often do such things happen in real life, and who is in charge of these decisions.

Why would you offer a customer a free meal at the same restaurant that gave them food poisoning? Who would ever consider eating there again?

Why offer your customer additional flying miles when he was complaining he has too many and there are no viable options for him to spend them on?

Or, my favorite, follow policy to the rule and refuse to refund your customer, but offer a higher value compensation to make up for the customer complaint?

All these cases seem absurd, maybe even insulting to the customers in question. Which begs the question, what are some management executives thinking? Wouldn’t it be easier to just show concern to the customer suffering food poisoning and promise him a thorough investigation? Or just figure out a possible option for the customer who wants to spend his flying miles by suggesting one or two additional destinations? Or simply refund the customer instead of offering him more money in the end? I’m guessing this is what happens when scripts and procedures overrule common sense.



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