Are we shattering our customers’ dreams?

A friend was thinking of buying a new car. One day, he and his son went to see the new cars available in the showrooms. They had shortlisted three brands and  visited the three car company dealer showrooms. At each, they understood about various models available within their budget and took a test drive.

When they visited the first showroom, they rejected that brand out of their consideration list of three brands, due to one small but unsavory incident. It went like this.

They had discussed the various models, variations, prices and even took a test drive. It took them one good hour. In the end, they wanted to see a brand new car of their desired model with a specific color. The salesman willingly showed them the new car kept for display. They were very happy with everything including the price, and almost started dreaming of owning the car. While they were leaving, the son remarked “The interior of this car is very good.” To which the salesman said, “Yes, they are tailor made.” Further inquiry revealed that the car shown on display was not the standard model with accessories listed in the brochure, but with a lot of customized add-on, which costs at least one lakh rupees, not anywhere mentioned in the brochure and also not informed by the salesman throughout this one-hour interaction with them. He disclosed it only when asked. The incremental cost was prohibitive for them and they had to leave leaving their dream behind.

At other two showrooms, they were shown new cars as they were described in the brochure. That made a lot of things easier to decide. They appreciated the business practices of these other two car dealers in contrast to the earlier one.

We all may have come across incidents where we had to pay some “hidden costs” which we were never aware of or were never told of. Such things happen when we are on tours and we are more vulnerable. At such times, we don’t have much choice than to pay up.  It creates very bitter word of mouth publicity and damages the brand reputation irreparably. But when the customer has yet to make a choice, such incidents result in direct loss of sales and our credibility.

Customers are delighted when they get more than they expected. And they get equally disappointed whey we shatter their dreams. Nobody likes people who show them the dreams and then increase the cost of realizing them. Dreams are too precious to be broken by bad marketing. Specially if they belong to our customers’ eyes.