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A Confused Customer Buys Nothing

  • Annette Franz

There’s a marketing maxim that states, “A confused customer buys nothing.” American photographer and environmentalist Ansel Adams had a similar notion, which he expressed as, “There’s nothing worse than a sharp picture of a fuzzy concept.”

Think about that for a minute. Are there some fuzzy concepts in need of focus at your organization? Are your customers walking around puzzled and perplexed? Do you know the signs to look for? Perhaps most importantly, do you know the implications of customer confusion?

Let’s begin exploring these questions by first defining what a confused customer looks like. Confused customers

  • can’t find what they need because your website layout or store displays are too complex and convoluted
  • can find what they’re looking for, but don’t understand product details
  • don’t recognize the differences among your various product offerings
  • think your products do something they can’t
  • are overwhelmed by too many choices
  • don’t have the MBA in finance required to understand your pricing and discount strategies
  • are stuck working with staff members who are not trained adequately to answer questions
  • have an issue with your product or service and can’t understand why your employees don’t resolve it
  • are getting lost in your jargon instead of being communicated with in a customer-focused manner
  • aren’t getting enough information to make a decision
  • are getting too much information, little of which is relevant to the problem they want to solve
  • view your brand, products or services no differently from those of your competitors
  • see inconsistencies in your brand, its purpose, and your products and services
  • find your brand message inconsistent with their own brand experiences.

So, what does all of this mean for you and your business? Well, just as the maxim states, confused customers don’t buy. Furthermore, they won’t return to try again — at least not without a lot of effort from you — and they certainly won’t recommend you to friends or colleagues. Unfortunately, confused customers develop the kind of dissatisfaction that leaves a bad taste in their mouths — one that often lingers for a long, long time. Why would they ever want to experience that?

Following are some straightforward strategies and practices you can put in place to help eliminate the confusion at your company.

First, use customer journey maps to remove operational and process inefficiencies. It’s vital for you to thoroughly understand the steps customers must take in order to achieve various tasks, whether it’s researching a product, purchasing it, getting it serviced, or any number of other activities and key touchpoints. Once you identify where the journey breaks down, work to fix the issues that are leading to misunderstanding.

Consider how you can help make things more effortless for your customers. Then, look to your employees and your internal messaging to take this effort even further. Always keep in mind that, before your workers can understand what is expected of them, they must not be suffering from any kind of confusion either. Employees should fully understand both their roles within your company and how what they do contributes and relates to the customer experience. This requires a distinct focus on your business’s purpose, vision, values, brand promise and objectives.

Once your employees have this clarity, they will bring it with them into everything they do — including organizing websites and stores, detailing product information, writing marketing messaging, developing pricing and discounts, building collaborative relationships with other employees, establishing communication and brand strategies, and much more. All of this soon will translate to clarity for your customers, as well.


Annette Franz is founder and CEO of CX Journey. She may be contacted at

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