Your Company could be Confusing Customers

“A brand is no longer what we tell the consumer it is – it is what consumers tell each other it is.” – Scott Cook

Going by the quote above it seems clear that unless customers know what they are getting from a company and are able to get value from what they receive, they will be unlikely to endorse a brand. Companies often make the fatal mistake of looking inward, trying to find their USPs in a bid to appear unique, and in doing so continually bombard customers with all kinds of messages to convince them to buy. This is a mistake because rather than helping to make a decision, these messages end up confusing customers, to the point of applying the brakes on their buying. They do not see value in a brand, which in turn makes them convey the same to those around them – double whammy for a company – loss of existing and prospective customers.

In the highly competitive market of today, it is becoming exceedingly hard for companies to stay ahead of their competitors and be noticed by customers. Despite highlighting their own unique features, lowering prices, offering incentives, and even placing focus on the shortcomings of competitors, companies still lag behind because they are probably confusing customers with too many and disjointed messages. We know that most buying decisions now are based on emotions and feelings of being connected to a brand / company. In the rush of gaining more business, companies sometimes forget to care for their customers – they forget to ask them pertinent and open-ended questions that would reveal their current emotions with regard to the company. This in turn leads to dissatisfaction arising out of the feeling of being ignored by the company – it also is a sure shot way of confusing customers since at the start of the association they would have been shown loads of attention and given a lot of importance.

Smart companies however, know how to provide value and build emotional connections with their offerings and customer service. Their messages are clear and concise, elaborating the benefits customers would derive from using the brand and or products, rather than providing a seemingly endless list of products and services that do not make sense to the target customers. The reality is, and it is harsh and challenging, that customers make buying decisions in a matter of seconds and unless a company’s message and or products can ‘spin their magic’ in the first few seconds, it can be safely assumed that customers may never buy.

The first thing prospective customers do now, as per research and studies, is check the company’s website. It therefore becomes extremely critical for a company to ensure that the ‘landing page’ provides them with information in line with the keywords they may have used to reach the website. In order to capture the attention of these ‘visitors’, the landing page and the entire website must be highly attractive, with informative content, call to action buttons, vivid imagery and colours, and yet be simplistic enough so as to not end up confusing customers. A smart combination of all these aspects and elements help customers to make decisions in favour of a company, since they would stay longer on the website and the longer they stay, the more engaged they could become.

Attracting and retaining customers is becoming almost like a science – companies must be constantly aware of how customers think, how they could possibly respond, and what are the driving forces behind any decisions they make – for or against a company / brand. Based on their ‘study and observation’ of customers, a company can make better campaigns, design more effective websites and landing pages, products that would appeal to a larger audience, and other such methods to get more customers and keep them for longer.

Customers have a number of decisions they would be making daily – from minor ones to possibly life changing decisions. They would already be overwhelmed and weighed down with the burden of making those decisions – and a company that could ease their business decisions would most certainly score over those companies, constantly confusing customers. We have mentioned before that confused customers cease to remain customers – they would stop choosing and as a result would not buy. They become ‘paralyzed’ with the overwhelming number of messages and decisions that a company could seem to be forcing them to make – the result is stalling of buying or switching over to a company that seems more in control and would have more benefits for the customer.

Confusing customers, albeit inadvertently, seems to be commonplace now. Companies are in a competing frenzy – more products to buy, increased number of television channels to watch, more dishes on the menu, improved apps and mobile devices, and an endless list of options through which they expect to ‘woo’ their customers. While some companies provide help and recommendations to their customers, other companies force customers to ‘fend for themselves’, which not only confuses them but also irritates them enough to stop buying. Which category does your company belong – making it easy or confusing customers? Very often companies cannot even conceive how they could be confusing customers – for them they seem to be doing everything right. What they do not realize is that while customers love options, and having the power to choose between those options, in addition they want support and guidance. They expect companies to provide them with customized information and high quality content, with clear messages such that they can make informed decisions and able to gain maximum benefit from the choices they make.

Balancing the plethora of options with accurate messaging, and the needs and expectations of a wide base of customers, is a herculean task that every company is faced with constantly. Those that can strike a balance most often, would find themselves more successful than other market players, and would be in a better position to consolidate their lead amongst their competitors. The key is to know, how much information is too much, and providing customers only as much as they would need to decide in your company’s favour. As a customer, imagine receiving a ‘mile long’ communiqué from a company – even though it may state benefits and have a long list of products that could be useful to you – what would be your reaction to the message. You would probably junk the message after reading a few lines and ‘swear’ never to associate with the company again. This is bad news for a company – especially if the customer decides to share the overwhelming message to their friends and associates. It could lead to more people staying away from the company.

While some companies may believe that confusing customers through ‘confusion marketing’ is a great way to get them to buy. However, over time, customers would ‘see through’ these tactics and not only leave the company without warning, but let a very large audience know via social media. Companies would benefit a lot more if they maintained a high level of customer service, focused on putting together innovative products and services, and made efforts to keep their customers happy and loyal. Confusing customers is a tactic of dishonest companies, and one that customers would most definitely punish.

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