Good vs. Sounding Good

Fruits in breakfast and lunch. Dessert in dinner. Unlimited milk and curd, paneer and ice-cream on Sundays.
This is the menu of my college mess. Sounds tempting! Above average for an Indian college mess. But nobody mentioned the bad quality of these stuff and basically the quality of chapati and rice(the essentials). So basically you have a lot of add-on or extra features but you missed to serve the basics good.

90% of my college campus is WiFi enabled. The remaining 10% is where the students need it, the hostels.

All these features help my college attract many new students but they don't realise that they are actually creating or graduating many unsatisfied customers who are only going to create a bad WoM for the college. My college made a bad choice in this case as they saw the short term gains only. The students do not have a choice because one can only talk about quality once they have experienced it. By then it is too late to change college or switch your service provider. As a result by the time student passes out he is so frustrated he is only going to talk bad about the service and even the good things will be over shadowed.

You must choose between giving your customers features that sound good and features that are good.No harm if you can give both but what if you have to make a choice.

Features that sound good help when you are seeking a one time customer like a tea vendor on a railway station. I remember one tea vendor on New Delhi station who gave 4 slices of fruit cake free with tea, served tea in cup and saucer that looked different from other vendors who served in a disposable glass(i would prefer this for hygiene) all for the same price of Rs. 5 but his tea tasted awful. Almost no milk, bad quality tea leaves, less sugar... basically awful. He doesn't need to worry because probably i wouldn't recognize him next time i visit the place and in this case any kind of WoM is hardly going to make much difference.

Some examples:
Telecom company - Bad network but allows mobile payment, ticket booking etc
Local search - outdated, unauthenticated data but allows forwarding of address through SMS
Free web to SMS - too delayed service but supports email to SMS.

If you are any of the above you probably know the reason why your business isn't picking up. Giving good service may mean a narrow operating margin and may be a less number of customers who come to you asking about your features but it surely help you gain a lot of positive WoM. The customer wont come to you asking whether you really offer certain feature but he would come to you expecting that you will offer it better than anyone else at the same price. You get a positive customer to begin with, not at neutral or below.

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