Your Customers Don’t Want To Change

One of the most fundamental forces in the behavior of people in all aspects of their life is their resistance and hostility to change. By and large, I do not consider this necessarily a bad thing. To be sure, there are aspects of change in all of our lives that are fundamental if we are to live the right way, but for the most part, living a good life requires developing the right habits and stick to them and successfully resisting the sort of purposeless and irritating changes that companies try to force upon you for their profit and that activists attempt to force upon society to match their own warped views of creating heaven on earth which inevitably end up hellish in the execution. It is remarkable, though, just how consistently the universal tendency for resistance to change is disregarded by other people who think that they can prompt people into doing what they want to do simply by changing the circumstances of their lives, instead creating a lot of needless irritation and frustration because of their tampering with what is going on already. A tendency as universal as the resistance to change cannot be worthless and useless, and the fact that we seldom appreciate it to the extent that it deserves signifies a major blinds spot in the behavior of companies and institutions.

One of the first lessons that every successful company needs to know is that their customers do not want to change. I know that people who reach positions of high power in companies and government want to show that they know what they are doing to pushing through changes that meet their own vision of the company or the world, but this temptation is to be resisted as strenuously as possible unless one wants to do harm to one’s brand and one’s reputation. A few examples should suffice. Once upon a time Coke thought that its trusted formula for decades needed a bit of sprucing up, and so it announced a plan to create a “New Coke” that ended up costing the company quite a bit of its reputation before it felt the need to adopt a return to “Classic Coke” to reassure its customer base that had been agitated by needless change. Similarly, hegemonic blog company WordPress has sought to push for a new block editor for its bloggers to use that has, to put it very mildly, attracted a lot of negative opinions, in large part because the new block editor looks ugly, does not work as well as the old one, and does not include features like word count on its standard pages, making it a dud as far as text editors are concerned. One irritated blogger who shall remain nameless asked support how one could get rid of the garbage editor or at least to establish a workaround, and this is probably not an uncommon response (for those who are curious and feel the same way, the current workaround that does not require upgrading one’s plan is to use the Wp-Admin and start new posts from there).

It should be noted that customers are not generally blind to improvements in the way that they do things. There are plenty of people who can appreciate the higher speed of internet and the developments of the internet to provide content cheaper and faster than before. There are people willing to learn new skills in order to better use these developments, and there are certainly more than a few social trends and technologies that have provided genuine and appreciated benefit to the lives of ordinary people who themselves are highly resistant to change. That said, though, a great deal of what companies and institutions view as being improvements are not in fact improvements to internal or external customers. Desires for greater security may reduce the freedom that people have to use their devices, which is not appreciated, or may involved laborious and irritating two-step verification processes that actively hinder the desire of the user to accomplish their tasks. A genuine improvement would be to improve security or some other desired metric in a way that is invisible to the user and does not hinder one’s normal using experience while accomplishing the desired goal. If this approach seems foreign, it is because those who tend to code and program seldom view matters the way that the ordinary user does. The ordinary user has a task to accomplish and wants to accomplish that task with as little fuss as possible. It is the job of the programmer or coder to make that possible in such a way that it also serves the need of the organization as well, and the less change management that inflicts upon the user, the more appreciated one’s efforts will be.

Indeed, if you want to improve the lives of people, one of the best ways that you can go about this task, if you really desire the improvements to stick, is to figure out how to improve processes in such a way that it is invisible and requires no effort on the part that one is seeking to improve matters for. To the extent that one is able, for example, to make one’s food options healthier without in any way changing the taste of them, one has succeeded in a worthwhile task. Indeed, the ordinary customer need not know that one has made changes, and one can target advertisements to those who would be positively impressed by such a change. Making change both beneficial to the well-being of the customer and invisible to the customer in terms of price and quality is a way to make that change as appreciated as possible when it is recognized, and it need not be recognized. There is a lot of reputation to be had for holding to one’s standards and working to improve them in such a way that one deals with invisible processes and presents the same appearance before the public that is appreciated because islands of stability in a world full of unwanted and negative change is something to treasure. Unfortunately, while there are many people who make their livings by advocating pointless and irritating changes, there are all too few people who can celebrate the human tendency to appreciate a well-acquired habit, a rut in the road that one has no need or desire to tamper with.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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