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Phil Wickenden: The power of likeability when choosing a provider

There are lots of reasons why I should ditch my Blackberry. For starters, networks do not make it easy to buy the things. My current model – The Priv – was astonishingly hard to find. Despite calling infinite Vodafone locations around the country, it was impossible to locate a store with a floor model I could hold before buying.

BlackBerry chief executive John Chen has repeatedly said the company may exit the smartphone business altogether. Being loyal to BlackBerry requires commitment. But I like it. And the truth is, likeability, however fluffy a metric, is a powerful force.

As a general rule, people are not looking to optimise the decisions they make; they are looking to simplify them. But despite the enormous body of knowledge that exists around how we short-cut, simplify and post-rationalise our decision-making, the way we go about marketing to, communicating with and understanding consumers continues to ignore these realities.

We still, by and large, look to understand people on some kind of mythical journey towards purchasing, where they become aware of our product/service, build knowledge, foster desire and then act. We still ask people why they did things, accepting verbatim as truth the rationalisations they give us. And we persist in presenting rational arguments to people to convince them to buy us and our stuff.

It is about understanding people as they behave, not solely via their rationalisations before or after.

Adviser research we have just carried out revealed a significant difference between what advisers say is important and what really affects their choice of provider/platform. For instance, consultant likeability has a much bigger impact on propensity to do business with a provider than advisers claim.

Advisers may not like to admit it in the world of stringent due diligence requirements and Mifid machinations, but the extent to which advisers like certain individuals within a provider has a massive impact on whether they will continue to use them in the future.

Here is why this matters. It is not enough to just be good at what you do. Modern brands must be human, trustworthy and likeable. Rohit Bhargava, author of Likeonomics: The Unexpected Truth Behind Earning Trust, Influencing Behaviour and Inspiring Action, points to what he calls the “likeability gap”: the difference between what people will do because they have to and what they will do because they want to.

Because, in the end, we do business and build relationships with people we like.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of Cicero Research


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There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. People buy from people that they like, and that they, are like.

  2. Still a people business (after all these years, as Paul Simon might say if he was an IFA)and, I personally would readily admit, heavily influenced by service levels.

  3. Whilst I fully agree that people will only buy things from people they “like”.

    They also will only buy things they know about and where they perceive a benefit to them.

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