Home > Business, Leadership, Usability > What can we learn from coffee?

What can we learn from coffee?

I’ve previously been posting a thought about using The Ultimate Question to show the value in quality. The Ultimate Question is “Would you recommend X to a friend”?

I believe that slipping quality might not drive current customers away but prevent customers from recommending a product. For example, changing a financial system is a hazzle, so those annoying errors which you learnt to live with might not make you switch, but when your friend starts a new business you cannot recommend the system.

I just read Wired To Care. It just happened that I found the book on Audible and thought, why not? I thought it would be one of those nonsense books (or rather all sense books) which already says what you know, they state the obvious. But this is far from true when it comes to this book. Filled with real stories and examples, it presents the not so obvious cases.Like with the coffee industry in the USA.

You probably have already heard this if you’re from the US, but for a Swedish gal, this was news.

Coffee was a well tasting, high quality product in the 1950’s. And then a chill fell over the coffee fields in Brazil and the price of high quality beans sky rocketed. So, what to do?

Maxwell learnt that customers were not prepared to pay the new price, so what they found was that if they added a tiny percent of lower quality beans, the customers didn’t know the difference and they could lower prices. Wonderful. But the upcoming year, they wanted to cut prices even more, tested a blend with slightly lowered quality and since the customers didn’t mind, they were on a slippery slope. After many years, Maxwell found that they didn’t get any new customers. The young turned away from coffee. But their customer evaluation showed that the customers liked the blend and were not prepared to pay more.

But then came Starbucks. They realized that the old customers had slowly learnt to cope with the failing quality and they were not prepared to pay more. But the new customers hadn’t learnt to handle the change and were baffled by their parents drinking this vile coffee. They were not prepared to pay little for crap.

Thinking that lowering the quality when the customers accept it is probably a bad idea, but it’s easy to walk that path. To think that they don’t mind? Why bother with that pixel? It probably don’t mean anything for the user if the system becomes a couple of seconds slower. It’s all those many, smart decisions which makes that horrible coffee, while someone else with pride can present a prime product and even charge for it.

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