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Why Customers Resist Change

        posted by , May 16, 2013

It happens all the time.

You invest in improvements that are rejected by customers. The investment backfires, reducing sales and damaging your reputation.

It's the restaurant that renovates only to see a drop in customers. It's the cookie brand that redesigns its packaging only to experience a drop in sales. It's the software that adds new features to bad publicity and customer complaints.

Changing your customer experience always runs the risk of failure. There are several common reasons that customers resist change.

1. Future Shock

You're not the only change in a customer's day.

Your customers live in a world of accelerating change. They need to continually learn to keep pace with technology, social and business change. The world looks very different from one year to the next.

Humans evolved in conditions of slow change. They evolved to value stability.

Many customers view change as an annoyance.

2. Brand Re-evaluation

Customers evaluate brands and make decisions to include or exclude that brand from their life.

If nothing changes, your customers may continue in a purchasing pattern indefinitely. When you change your products or customer experience, you trigger brand re-evaluations.

When your best customers (who make purchases on a regular basis) suddenly re-evaluate your brand — it can mean a drop in sales.

3. Bloated Features

There are only so many ways to improve a pickle.

Once you've got your pickles tasting good — you're done. Customers don't want additional features with their pickles.

The same goes for any product. Unnecessary features tend to get in the way. They complicate your products and customer experience.

Customers will resist any features they perceive as bloated.

4. Need Neglect

Customer needs are the only thing that should be driving your improvements.

If new features don't fulfill customer needs, customers will resent them.

5. You're Not Explaining Why

Customers tend to resent meaningless changes.

Respect your customer's intelligence.

If your change has value, make sure you explain it to your customers.

6. Learning Failure

Every change you make, requires your customers to learn something new.

If a candy product changes its package, customers need to identify that package on a crowded shelf. If a restaurant changes its menu, customers need to find their favorite dishes. If you change software, customers need to learn new interfaces.

If your customers fail to learn your changes, they'll give up on your product.

Never overestimate your customers patience. They may look for your new package on the shelves for about 3 seconds. They may give a new menu 40 seconds before becoming frustrated. They may try to learn new software features for a few minutes before giving up.

7. Nostalgia

People tend to be nostalgic about the past.

Even teenagers can be nostalgic about their early childhood. The older you get, the more nostalgic you tend to become.

If your products are integrated into your customer's lives you may benefit from brand nostalgia. Major brand changes can disrupt this effect.

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