The Customer is Always Wrong

Conventional wisdom suggests good customer service produces sales. But as it turns out, sometimes the exact opposite might be the case.

 |  Transcript [PDF]

Have you ever wondered why you buy certain products or identify with one company over another? Research coming from the University of British Columbia may have some insights.

Professor Darren Dahl, consumer psychologist and Fred H. Siller Professor in Applied Marketing Research at the University of British Columbia, studies why consumers make certain decisions, buy specific products, and behave in particular ways in places like retail stores and restaurants.

His research has yielded some surprising results. Recently his group found that even though most people think that courteous service is always a good thing, sometimes a rude salesperson can actually lead to you buying a product.

Dahl’s work benefits people on both sides of the retail relationship – it helps consumers by empowering them to understand what’s happening in the retail environment and it benefits businesses because it helps them understand how consumers think which in turn helps them build their marketing strategy.

But this type of research goes beyond the material world. By learning why consuming a particular product is so important to us, the study of consumption is really giving us a true understanding of who we are as people.

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Darren Dahl is the Senior Associate Dean – Faculty/Research and the B.C Council Innovation Professor at the University of British Columbia. His current research interests are in the areas of new product design and development, creativity, consumer product adoption, the role of social influence in consumer behavior, and understanding the role of self-conscious emotions in consumption. His research has been presented at numerous national and international conferences, and published in various texts and such journals as the Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Research, and Management Science. He currently is the editor in chief of the Journal of Consumer Research and serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Marketing Research and the Journal of Marketing. Professor Dahl teaches courses in Consumer Behavior, Marketing Research, and Strategic Marketing Analysis at the undergraduate, MBA, and executive education levels. He has won awards for both his research (e.g., Sauder School of Business Senior Research Award) and his teaching (e.g., 3M Teaching Fellow) efforts.

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