Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Howard’s Inner Circle, No. 36: Pavlov’s Customers

Very few scientific experiments fascinate me. An exception was Milgram’s dealing with obedience to authority. Another is Pavlov’s regarding the creation of conditioned responses. They captivate me because of their detrimental implications in our lives.
Take the following ways merchants integrate Pavlov’s principles as a component in their customer relations management philosophies.
• Using so-called rewards-based loyalty programs to compel further sales to the same customer.
• Self checkouts that make the customer perform the duties of staff with no compensation.
• Lip service, form letters, and platitudes about providing superior customer satisfaction to complaints.
• Discouraging concrete and mortar store shopping by eliminating low-level supervisors and staffing store with inexperienced staff. Little attention to display and layout and standard response by staff if you can’t fine what you want, go online rather than accessing computer and offering to order it for you.
• Fast food restaurants where special orders aren’t listened to.
• Fish hooking with freebies that lock you into expensive long-term service contracts.
• New, must-have improved version of the same product unveiled every six months.
• Charging more for those who commit early or buy directly from provider, rather than via third-party Web site.
There are many other examples of customers being conditioned to buy on the merchant’s terms at the customer’s expense. But unlike the dogs in Pavlov’s experiments rather than salivating, customers are beginning to snarl, and bite those who ring the bell.
© 2011
Above may be reproduced in full if that fact is stated and Howard Wolosky at is credited as the author.

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