Quality is a Light Switch to a Customer

November 7, 2008

2993752517_66a9b9ffa8That’s so important I’ll say it again. Quality is a light switch to a customer. On or off. It’s a binary condition, a coin flip. Heads or tails.

Quality is a probability to a marketer. Even six sigma – the apex of manufacturing quality – is based on the idea of managing down the number of inevitable defects. 99.99% uptime on the coffee shop wif-fi doesn’t impress the customer. They don’t recall the 9,999 times they connected flawlessly. They make their choice on whether to return based on the one time they didn’t.

No, it’s not fair. But fairness is irrelevant in life after ‘Candyland’. (And even there, I cheat. To let my daughter win. Don’t tell her.) Fairness is especially irrelevant in marketing. Marketing is a promise. Products and services keep or break promises. In marketing, as in life, keeping promises is everything.

As I write, I search for a Creative Commons-licensed image on Flickr to go with the post. Message: ‘Flickr has a hiccup. We’re looking into it.’ It goes away on refresh and it’s not a big deal. Thank you, Flickr, for calling it a hiccup and dealing with it instead of trying to explain it away. That’s light switch language, the language of customers, like the picture above by RayBanBro66.

The probability-based language of marketers, consultants and manufacturers comes off more like the ‘light switch complicator’ photo below by L Marie. Review your marketing materials and pay close attention to what you say about quality and how you say it. Which light switch are you talking to your customers about?



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