Some years back I wrote a book called “Complain & Win – Your Guide to Consumer Justice” (it can still be purchased as an eBook on Amazon).
By today’s standards it was somewhat naive and not that well executed, but the idea was based in good intentions.
The book came about because my friends had noticed that I was somewhat tenacious when it came to getting a fair deal, what I’d paid for and rectification of failures.
The book “had to be written” after I successfully had a brand new car replaced because I’d been sold a lemon.
Would it surprise you to know that nothing much has changed? I could list a whole raft of recent “disappointments” that probably wouldn’t sound unfamiliar to you.
People still sell on promises and deliver on silence (or outright lies).
Some recent experiences have made me wonder if there’s a way that we, as consumers, can let shopkeepers and other assorted sales people know that we are genuine and will hold them accountable to their promises and the things they say.
When someone says they’ll call me about delivery of a product am I insane to expect a phone call?
When someone tells me that something will do a certain job am I wrong to be disappointed when it doesn’t?
Of course every job is different and delivery on expectations is often just not possible.
In my own line of work the complexities of technology and the almost infinite ways that they can be implemented means that knowing for sure 100% that something will work is not in my hands.
Who wants to hear that? It makes the selling process very tough for someone as fundamentally honest as me.
Even if you’ve been in business just a short time you will have heard the term “managing your customer’s expectations”.
So as a customer is it possible to manage the promises of sales people? Can we amend their behaviour to align with our expectations in the very short time it takes to buy most things?
I am thinking of having some cards printed up.
On the front there’ll be a small photo of me smiling with the words “Thanks for your help. I’m going to hold you to your word.”
On the back there’ll be a small frowny face me with the words “But you said...You promised...”
The job of the card is twofold. It is to serve as a mini contract. Once taken from my hands the expectations of both parties should be better aligned.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it is a tool designed to elicit a reaction. Seeing how the recipient responds to the card gives me the opportunity to assess what happens next and say “you know what, you didn’t seem comfortable with that. I think I’ll buy elsewhere”.
Of course, with a slight modification, the cards can work the other way around. They can be a sales tool to help customers hold us accountable.
I know things go wrong. I know people can’t know everything. If my mini-contract cards can help people avoid disappointment and manage failure better then I think they’ll be worth it.
What do you think? Have you seen anything like this used before? I’d love to hear your experiences.