Friday, September 27, 2013

Seek the Succinct in Recommendations

“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.”
     The spirit of that epigram, attributed to Plato, shines through in the evidence from a set of four studies about what happens when consumers give purchase recommendations to each other. Researchers at University of Michigan and Wilfrid Laurier University found that people who are insecure about their consumer knowledge will talk more when giving recommendations than will highly confident experts.
     The negative relationship between confidence and verbosity was strongest if the person giving the advice felt close to the target of the advice. The urges to be a valuable helpmate as well as to enhance one’s own importance kept the dilettante from shutting up early when that would have best served everyone.
     One lesson from this for retailers is to seek the succinct in recommendations. This applies to reviews you request from others, such as about your vendors, and to reviews you ask your customers to generate for use by your target markets.
     On a related note, another set of studies found that when people who truly are experts are prodded for increasing amounts of detail, they start giving flawed advice. Researchers at University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, New York University, and University of British Columbia found that product and service experts don’t stay sufficiently familiar with details of their logic. They’re accustomed to giving advice from habit rather than tracing out the details each time. If pinned down by requests for those details, experts often make up reasons for their conclusions.
     What’s worse is that the experts tend to consider the reasons as genuine. They’ll create false memories on the spot and then accept those memories as real. They don’t know they’re lying.
     People who have been identified as experts are proud of the designation and feel accountable for advice they give. When they can’t recall details in their reasoning, they assume it must have slipped from mind. They dig deeper to fill in the gaps, not realizing the deep digging leads their brains to subconsciously create phony recollections.
     Therefore, another lesson for retailers applies to the situations of you personally giving, rather than receiving, advice. For this point, the operative epigram, which has been variously attributed to Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, and even a Mrs. Goose, reads, “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Click below for more: 
Articulate the Reasoning Experts Use 
Sell More by Being Less Certain

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