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Ignore Your Customer (or Voters) At Your Own Peril

Marketers who have been around the block know that business interests often trump consumer needs. Yes, shocking. Who knew that businesses would expect customers to conform to their processes rather than creating products and services that fit the customer’s needs?

While there are many frustrations for market researchers, one particularly bothersome item that occasionally arises is hearing executives say that they need to educate their customers on why their (insert product or service here) is better than the requested needs of the consumer. Yes, we know better and we will be successful if we can just improve our communications. We don’t have a product problem, it is a communications problem. Ignore the research. Our customers don’t know what they want and we have to tell them what they need.

The current healthcare debate is a great case study of this problem. Instead of providing a solution that most Americans would find of interest, the current proponents of the plan are trying to convince a larger number of Americans that they know better and their way is the only solution.

On the other side of the fence, health insurance companies have consistently failed over the years to take care of their customers, and they’ve created processes only an actuary could love. Insurance companies deserve to be forced into change. If they had made changes and innovated along the way, consumers would not be demanding reform.

With these two sides failing to listen to their customers/constituents...is it any wonder that people are fervently protesting?

What should be worrying the proponents of healthcare reform are not the people protesting the plan, it is the silent consumers/voters watching and complaining quietly. For every customer who calls to complain, there is a far larger number who do not call and will defect at the first opportunity.

There is not a communications plan or strategy that can successfully force consumers into a program they don’t want. The consumer or voter will always win out in the end with their wallets or their votes. He who ignores his customers/voters, does so at their own peril.