The root of the problem
At the root of many instances of customer dissatisfaction is a failure by a company to communicate and plan clearly with its customers. But here is the dirty secret: this failure is often on purpose.
Here are some examples of questions companies can ask themselves to self-assess whether they are guilty of this intentional failure...
Failure to communicate
Failure to plan
A lawyer might sum up all of these questions by simply asking, do you and your buyer have a meeting of the minds?
Both sides need to be wary of subjectivity in a sales agreement, but the primary responsibility, Mr. Seller, is on you.
Why? Because you are almost always the author of the agreement, and you almost always offer the terms of that agreement on a "take it or leave it" basis (lawyers call this "contract adhesion").
For example, many contracts require one side of the other to act reasonably, and even when the contract does not, the law may impose a duty on both sides to act in good faith. In some cases, these requirements are necessary and good. However, subjective agreements can also breed customer dissatisfaction, if not full-blown disputes.
Look at your own sales agreement now and look for the words reasonably or reasonable. Then try to identify all of the ways that reasonableness could be necessary, all of the dangers that might make it necessary. Are you trying to avoid an otherwise unavoidable danger? Or are you just trying to be clever and write yourself a blank check to behave as you wish without any consequence to you? Is there a way to rework the relationship to get rid of the danger?
If a reasonableness standard is necessary, then maybe you could at least come up with some clear basis for deciding what is reasonable--because even though eliminating subjectivity might not be possible, at least boxing it in probably is. But if this is not possible, could you give a neutral referee the power to decide what is or is not reasonable (and you would be hard-pressed to convince most consumers that mandatory arbitration constitutes a neutral referee)?
Now, speaking to consumers: what we have learned since 2009
We have been working in this space since 2009, and since then, have had thousands of conversations with people just like you who had an issue and were wrestling with whether to try to solve it.
What do most people tend to do in these situations?
If we limit our survey of the data to (what we consider to be) "big companies," like banks, telecom providers, certain real estate providers, and utilities, then an interesting patterns emerges.
Why do you think this is?
When we asked, here are the most common reasons people gave for why they decided to stay with a company they hate:
"But...I will speak up when there is something bigger at stake."
We interpret this collection of responses to mean basically three key things.
First, people tend abhor the friction and expense of trying to resolve conflict.
Second, those few people who do complain tend to be looked down upon by those who do not complain.
Third, there is a stakes-amount at which everyone is willing to go from the sideline "shamer" to the one being shamed for trying to resolve a problem.
...and trying to generalize that precise amount for everyone is something we have found to be more difficult than it is to simply understand why someone decides to complain to stay silent.
What do you think?
In your case, do you generally find it preferable to complain when you are dissatisfied or totally up and leave that offending company?
We are taking a poll.
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