The ability to survive and the present levels of prosperity in many organizations are founded precisely on the consumer ignorance that is fast expiring. If for no other reason than sheer necessity, consumers will be looking for affordable alternatives; the need to survive will be the harshest 'teacher' for both the suppliers and the consumers.
IS IGNORANCE AN ECONOMIC RESOURCE?
SUPERSTAR REPUTATIONS HELP
Dr. Bigbouche entered the room confident that his audience would drink in every word he said, without the slightest resistance. He had discovered, from past experience, that none of them knew much about the subject and that the more complex he made the issue sound, the fewer questions would be asked because such people feared exposing their ignorance of any subject.
ALL CURRENCIES AND FORMS OF PAYMENT ACCEPTED
Dr. Bigbouche had managed to put away a tidy sum of money through the systematic application of the assumption that most people were really ignorant but would always wait to know everything and so would go along with almost any harebrained idea rather than admit ignorance. A typical presentation could sound like this:
FLATTERY AND AMBIGUITY WILL GET YOU EVERYWHERE
“Dear Ladies and Gentlemen, I can not find the words to express what a great honor and pleasure it is for me to be here today. when I say that you are simply the best and that my mission is to ensure that you remain so.
As a result of the extensive transcendental, incidental, transmigrational and supernatural research I have carried out, I have made the following findings:
1. The sky is blue and your organization is located under it.
2. The earth is brown and your organization is built on it.
3. Your current profit margins allow you to pay my basic fees, leaving me with a profit of 850% after I make you a special discount of 20%, only for you. ”
“YOU CAN NOT FOOL ALL OF THE PEOPLE ALL OF THE TIME”
Although it may take longer or shorter periods of time for the clients of persons like Dr. Bigbouche to 'wake-up' to the fact that they are 'had had', they ever do. That is when the market for the service sector offered by such charlatans is ruined. Clients become distrustful of everyone. Moreover, it then takes twice as much work to 'educate' such clients about what the elements of 'quality service' in that sector really are. Client confidence and trust generated by credibility and honesty is an asset which is seriously underestimated.
“COME, COME,” SAID THE SPIDER TO THE FLY.
Customer ignorance is a highly prized 'resource' not only to the services sector, but also to the consumer goods industry, both of which make extraordinary profits in areas where customers know little about the industry or the true value of the product. One of the consequences of this ignorance is the very high cost of services and products, because the suppliers want to make the maximum profit possible in the shortest period possible. These costs are frequently out of proportion with present income levels. Pushed to the extreme, the result is that few people can afford the products and services on offer. The natural exit is that such businesses have to 'fold-up'.
SHOULD THE CUSTOMERS BE ENLIGHTENED?
Those who look 'short term' will say, “No!” Those who offer mediocre to poor services and goods will also say, “No!” Those who are currently enjoying unusually high margins of profit as a direct result of consumer ignorance will understandably say, “No!” Last but not least, those who feed off the 'prestige' myths will also join the ranks of those who say, “Definitely not, ie NO and NO again!”
WITH OR WITHOUT OUR HELP CUSTOMERS WILL LEARN
In an information-driven world it is inevitable that customers will become increasingly more discriminating. With a practically 'borderless' world, customers will learn by seeing and experiencing better quality service and buying better products for lower prices. With the inflow of more and more Lebanese from overseas, expectations for standards of service and value for money will be significantly affected. These have been spoiled by customer-driven markets where, unless the customer is treated like 'king', survival is impossible.
SHOULD WE CHANGE BEFORE WE PERISH?
Some forward looking businesses have fully understood the implications of this issue and have started to prepare themselves to face wiser consumers and fiercely customer-driven competitors. These organizations are working 'round-the-clock' to meet the twenty-first century fully prepared. Such organizations have looked into the future and seen that it will be very bleak indeed, if they do not act now and fast. 'Engineering change' is a complex, delicate and time-consuming process. Change does not respond to 'fire-fighting' action, simply because it is a process and not a single 'act'.
WHAT IF WE DO NOT CHANGE?
Those who remain firmly convinced that ignorance is an inexhaustible resource will unduly pay the price. Many of them are 'soldiers' by Lebanese standards today, but their ability to survive and their present levels of prosperity are founded precisely on the ignorance that is fast expiring. If for no other reason than sheer necessity, consumers will be looking for affordable alternatives; the need to survive will be the harshest 'teacher' for both the suppliers and the consumers. Although it is not much to our cultural liking, it is well worth looking beyond the 'Bigbouches' and attending to the pragmatic issue of preparing to meet the future, before we became only a memory from the past.