Tuesday, November 3, 2009

We can offer you the best price only.

So what’s new? Kangaroo T shirts have gotten a bunch of outspoken fellows into trouble, stocks are still tumbling, Hong Kong’s financial regulators announced that they would guarantee all deposits for the next two years, using the territory’s foreign reserves as collateral, and our Finance Minister has once again said things that will leave many thinking Singaporeans scratching their heads.

“From the point of view of our system, it (guarantee for bank deposits) is not necessary because there is no lack of confidence in our system.”

Once in a while, I would get patients who want me to guarantee that their crown/bridge/implant will last x number of years. From a professional point of view, it is impossible to guarantee these services because there are so many biological variables involved. One patient may chew harder than another. One patient may brush harder than another. Another patient may love coffee, tea or wine. From an ethical point of view, it’s not honest or realistic for the dentist to guarantee. Some cases will fail and we all know it. But unlike ministers, we can’t declare that there is no lack of confidence in our services, “hence”, we can’t guarantee.

From a business point of view, however, it’s actually not too difficult to give such guarantees. The majority of cases will last x number of years. Even if the dentist has to redo some of those which don’t last x number of years for free, he is unlikely to suffer any losses as long as he has charged enough at the beginning. It sure is no fun having to redo a case that you’ve guaranteed but failed, but if it’s only 1% and if the guarantee boosts confidence and increases the absolute volume of your 99%, why not?

The same goes with well-known brands of electrical equipment. Even though consumers trust their products, brands like HP, Panasonic, Sony all guarantee their products. They are not worried about having to repair or even replace their products for free. Consumers know that the company will be able to afford it if their failure rate is low. With this knowledge comes confidence.

If any brand dares to stand out and say that there is no lack of confidence in their brand so they are not guranteeing it, then any discerning consumer will see the “logic” and quickly lose confidence in that brand. Why don’t you dare to guarantee if you are so sure that your system won’t fail? Nobody is going to cause me any anxiety by sticking his head out to guarantee my bank deposits. On the contrary, it’s reassuring to know that our “budget surplus” and massive “reserves” are not just things to boast about.

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