Author and researcher Josh Kaufman writes in his book The Personal MBA
that when people are purchasing something valuable, they want to know exactly what they can expect.
They want their experience to be predictable.
As Kaufman notes: “Unexpected surprises can provide a customer with a great experience, but if you’re not able to deliver what the customer expects in a predictable manner, it doesn’t matter how many bonuses you offer.”
Kaufman argues that three factors influence the predictability of a product or service: uniformity, consistency, and reliability.
1. Uniformity means delivering the same characteristics every time.
Kaufman offers the example of Coca-Cola, one of the first large companies to combine effective marketing with product uniformity at scale.
Achieving product uniformity in the beverage industry is a feat. Creating, bottling, and distributing soda at scale is a complex logistical process.
A little too much flavoring or sugar and the final product can be totally different. No one wants their soda to taste different each time they drink it.
Coca-Cola ensures that each can of Coke you have is the same as the last one – no matter where you are in the world. If they didn’t, their sales would suffer.
2. Consistency means delivering the same value over time.
Your clients or customers have certain expectations about the value they get from your product or service. You don’t want to violate those expectations.
Kaufman again uses Coca-Cola as an example. One of the reasons “New Coke” failed in the 1980s was that customers expected Coke to taste a certain way, but the company delivered something new under the same name. Violating that consistency led to a swift decline in sales.
Sales increased only when Coca-Cola restored the original formula.
The lesson is: if you’re offering something fundamentally different from your existing product or service, present it as something new.
3. Reliability means being able to count on the value being delivered without delay or error.
How would you feel if you spent a lot of money on a product and it didn’t work?