Consumers Best Interest at Heart

Consumers want to do business with companies that have their best interest at heart. But what does this look like to consumers? Some years ago, I had the privilege of serving as an Advisor to Dr. Gerry Zaltman’s “Mind of the Market” Lab at Harvard. “Best interest at heart” was one of many studies conducted using the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique (ZMET), leading to mapping of consumers deep thoughts about a company that has their best interests at heart. 

In “Essential Insights into the Mind of the Market”, Dr. Zaltman documents dignity as a central characteristic of a “best interest at heart” company. Related thoughts include moral character and honesty. This is easy to “head nod” to, but which companies really behave this way… and how do consumers know it? 

The A&E® Door Company has shown me repeatedly that they have my best interest at heart. How? I called them a year ago requesting service for a non-working garage remote. They told me to get on a step-stool in the garage, remove plastic cover on unit above, press a reset button, and then click the remote. It worked! I’ve successfully repeated this a few times when the problem recurred. Today I called A&E® again. I told them that there was a problem and this time I knew that a simple do-it-myself reset wouldn’t suffice. Given cold temps and incomplete closure, I wanted a service call… today. 

I explained that the car remotes didn’t work at all, but this time the button ON the garage wall only worked if I held it down while the door opened or closed. “Even with that, it won’t close completely”. The A&E® rep said, “It sounds like a problem with the safety eyes”, and asked me to check if there was anything obstructing the view of the eyes. “NO”, I answered. Then he asked me to see if the safety eyes were parallel with each other – pointing straight across the line where the garage should close. I noticed that one of the eyes was, in fact, slightly off center and pointing toward a car in the garage. It likely got moved by accident, while moving garbage cans in and out of the garage. A&E® also told me to wipe the lenses on the eyes in case dirt was causing the problem. I repositioned the eye and wiped the lens. VOILA — the garage worked perfectly!

This is a company that, on multiple occasions, could have taken my money — and didn’t. Their behavior epitomizes the dignity, moral character, and honesty that consumers want to see from companies… behaviors that show “best interest at heart”.   

Does your Company/Brand have consumers best interests at heart? And how do they know this?