One of my favorite bloggers, Seth Godin, frequently reminds us that cheaper is rarely better, easiest is rarely bestest (my word, not his). We see proof of those assertions often when we reactively reach for the cheapest priced product (soap, tires, computer, insurance, barbed wire, software, lawn mower, etc.), only to be hugely disappointed by the quality or the durability of our chosen item, or the fidelity of the vendor when we need remedy.
To be sure, the age of interconnectivity, automation, easy access to information, and convenient transportability allows (forces?) businesses and institutions to remove a lot of the traditional costs of overhead and middlemen, in order to get their product or service in our hands at the lowest possible price. These changing paradigms are having huge impact in my areas of vocation – education and agriculture.
At the end of the day (and the transaction), what brings us satisfaction and happiness is almost always the fact that the product/service did what we needed it to do, when we needed it done, with the least amount inconvenience or discomfort. To channel Godin again, the wisest businesses, institutions, and individual vendors (we ALL fit into at least one of those categories) figure out ways to optimize the exchange by optimizing the experience.
Two elements are the “trump cards” with regard to customer satisfaction:
Relationship and Quality.
Most of us are just fine paying a tad bit more, if the transaction is immersed in those two elements. It seems rather odd that we so often abandon those two powerful dimensions for the sake of saving a few cents or a few dollars.
If you’ve ever wrestled with a discount insurance company, you understand the importance of the first.
If you’ve ever used the off brand of toilet paper, you understand the second.