U for Uncertainty — Understanding People A to Z

My Mamma’s only 2 questions these days to me are, “Khana Khaya?” (Have you eaten?) & “Yeh sab kab khatam hoga?” (When will this end?). I don’t know. Nobody knows.

Since the pandemic started, we’ve often heard, “We’re living in uncertain times.” This 5-word small statement holds a lot of ache, discomfort and the feeling of being trapped. And just then I realise, uncertainty is a pain, hard to ignore.

It makes me think of the few days that follow after I’ve given the most kickass interview of my life.

I gave well-rounded answers. My clothes were on point and I even used buzzwords like netizens do. I submitted a winning project after sacrificing sleep. Had to deal with FOMO from friends’ weekend pics, but I did it! I know I’ll get the job, but just that, I don’t fully know for sure.

I’m uncertain.

The HR stops taking my call. The manager reads the message but doesn’t respond.

Uncertainty is a horrible feeling that keeps gnawing at me. Like that chicken shred stuck in my teeth.

Some thoughts that run through my mind

  • The HR must’ve resigned
  • The manager must be busy with new pitches
  • The company recently got funded, they must be busy counting money.
  • Did my mail go to spam? *Resend*
  • @#$%^&, *&^$!@#$%^()

I’m fidgety and restless, until I get another interview and the process restarts.

NOW, if we super hate this feeling of uncertainty, why do we put our customers through it? The only answer is — We shouldn’t!

Principle of Uncertainty

No matter your business type, uncertainty is a customer experience and sales killer. It is the scary situation when the customer has incomplete information, when his fears and concerns are not attended to, so he doesn’t buy from us.

Anhoni ko Honi kardo and Uncertainty ko Certainty

  1. Before motivating the customer to do what you want them to do, anticipate the concerns they’ll have on their mind and answer them.
  2. Your customers must understand how to do what you want them to do.
  3. Map uncertainties and answer them at the right time.

Sounds fucking simple. But very few brands do it. I dug out some examples of A brands, so my brand can be amongst the few brands that don’t keep things vague.

Uber

I, like most of you, have booked an Uber at least once in my life.

Once the booking is done, these are the things that Uber answers to remove uncertainty.

  • Tells me the location of the car I’ve just booked
  • Maps the movement of the car realtime and tells me the time at which my car will arrive.

Aside: I never have to wait at the pavement for my Uber, I can get out when the car pulls up. It gives me a chauffeur experience, not a cab hailing service feeling.

  • It tells me the make of the car
  • It assumes that I might not be familiar with the make, so it tells me the colour of the car
  • It gives me the number of the car and the driver
  • How to pay? If I’ve linked my Uber account with my bank or payment apps, it discreetly goes through. Or I can pay any way I like, really.
  • It tells me when I’ll reach my destination, so I’m not anxiously guessing.

Got any more questions? Uber thinks not, else it would’ve answered it.

NETFLIX

I went through the entire registration funnel as a new customer to find if I have any questions unanswered. Here’s what I learnt.

Step 1: Can I watch it when I’m sitting on the pot? I get bored!

Step 2: What if I don’t like the plan I choose right now?

Step 3:

  • What if I forget to cancel? I’ve lost so much money to freemium services. I hate that I find out only when the money goes from my account.
  • I don’t want to commit. Will I be stuck with Netflix forever?

Booking.com

Will I be charged if I press reserve?

ZARA

What if the trousers don’t fit me? Or How will I know if this pair of trousers will fit me?

What has age got to do with fit?

In the end, Zara removes uncertainty with social proof. It’s brilliant!

We can have a hundred benefits of our product or service, but if there’s one uncertainty, our customers won’t buy. But it is also true that if we answer all questions, our products or services will sell, even with less benefits.