Sunday, June 5, 2011

Call for Scrutiny of Groundless Fears

Just a couple of months ago, every consumer who had ever thought about giving their business to an airline was provided the opportunity to freak out about the possibility of a portion of their plane’s roof suddenly disintegrating while cruising at 34,000 feet above terra firma.
     After the April 1 incident on one of their 737-300’s, Southwest Airlines promptly addressed what was a reason for genuine fear. In my April 11 RIMtailing posting, I suggested that, in such circumstances of legitimate concerns which have been addressed, the retailer encourage consumers’ thinking to move on. Researchers at Washington State University and University of Texas-Austin use the term “willful ignorance” to refer to their finding that there’s information consumers would prefer not to know.
     The danger in the news today has to do with cellphones, and the nature of the resulting fear calls for a different sort of response from retailers concerned about the effects on sales of smartphones and accessories. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, a World Health Organization panel, reports evidence that frequent users of cell phones increase their chances of developing a glioma by 40%.
     A glioma is a particularly aggressive type of malignant tumor which often begins in the brain, close to the radiation from a cell phone held to the ear. The facts that so many of us use cellphones and that a glioma was the cause of Ted Kennedy’s death fueled media interest in the WHO announcement.
     The finding is quite preliminary, not conclusive, and this makes a difference in how retailers should handle the issue with consumers: Encourage shoppers and the media to scrutinize what’s known and not known at this point. Most experts in the field are saying a cellphone’s radiation levels are far too low to damage body tissue.
     When you genuinely believe a shopper’s fears to be groundless, or at least premature, you might find it helpful to use a set of steps based on a technique called systematic desensitization:
  • Check that the customer considers their fear to be unjustified.
  • Have the customer relax, without high pressure to make a consumption decision.
  • Encourage a critical evaluation of the actual facts and logic that have led to the fear and of reasons not to be afraid.
  • Make the sale in steps rather than deciding it all has to happen at once.
  • Genuinely praise the customer for overcoming their irrational fear.
Click below for more:
Ground the Flight of Customer Fears
Tamp Down Fear Points If Selling to Suppliers
Sell Self-Esteem After Times of Fear
Apply Systematic Desensitization to Fears