Customer Satisfaction: Do customers "really" know what they want?

During 2020, there were 39.7 million firearm background checks… and an estimated 8.4 million “new” gun owners - who purchased 40% of the 21 million guns sold in the U.S. that year.

In many cases, these people had never owned, much less handled a firearm. In fact, some of them had previously been anti-gunners!

When a gun store owner was asked what the most popular weapons were, she responded “Guns that people saw in movies.

Unfortunately, this isn't a new phenomenon. Far too many new gun owners have had their choice in firearms unduly influenced by movies, TV shows, and video games. Just because some actor/actress looked “cool” wielding a particular gun DOESN'T mean that it will fit your needs. A perfect example of this was the 1971 movie “Dirty Harry”, where San Francisco Detective Harry Callahan, portrayed by Clint Eastwood, carried a Smith & Wesson Model 29 chambered in .44 Magnum. According to a 2008 20th Century Fox poll, the Smith & Wesson Model 29 was the second most recognized weapon on film - behind the lightsaber from Star Wars! And sales of the Smith & Wesson Model 29 skyrocketed for over 25 years. Yet, many people who bought the revolver rarely, if ever, fired it - because it was big, heavy, and had a tremendous recoil. Ultimately, it became more of a conversation piece conveying status rather than a tool for self-defense.

More recently, choosing a handgun because some CGI characters in a video game made them look “cool” (e.g., “Call of Duty”), doesn't mean that handgun will magically make you “cool”… or perform the same way it did in the game. And no. It's not “virtual reality”… it's a game designed to help people escape from reality.

When purchasing a handgun, do you want a movie prop… or a personal defense weapon? Is your priority that a handgun “look cool”… or that it is one that you can actually handle?

Unwitting people confidently walk into random gun stores intent upon purchasing “a gun”. In most cases, they have no idea what they specifically want… or more importantly, need. Yet the very helpful commission-paid Sales Staff always seem to have exactly the gun that these customers need.

The problem is… more often than not, it isn’t. Instead, it's the firearm that the salesman earns the most commission on. Or the store owner has the highest profit margin.

The level of initial customer satisfaction in these transactions is often extremely high. The customer “felt” like they were given expert advice and quickly received their firearm. The problem is that “customer satisfaction” is emotion-driven. Did the customer get what they “thought” they wanted? Yes. But was it what they really needed? Usually… not. Upon that customer taking a firearms training class, their view may change. Many come to realize how they were manipulated into purchasing a completely over-priced or even unsuitable firearm.

According to one popular gun store owner, in 2020 the most popular handgun brand sold was Glock. The most returned handgun was… a Glock. When questioned about the return, customers stated that the Glock brand had been recommended by a friend who owned one. And the reason for the return was that the customer didn't realize that the gun didn't have a “Safety”.

Experienced gun owners understand that in a defensive situation, the defender is always at a disadvantage by being forced into a reactive mode. And that survival may depend upon both decisions and actions that must be made within milliseconds. In order to reduce a few milliseconds from their reaction time, a defensive firearm owner will often opt for a handgun without a “Safety”. The “key” word here is “experienced”.

How meaningful are customer satisfaction levels?

Do customer satisfaction levels have any “real” meaning (value)… when all they do is reflect a temporary emotional state?

How often have you had “buyer's remorse” several days, weeks, or months after a purchase? (Too bad you completed that Customer Satisfaction survey immediately after your purchase - rather than waiting a few days.)

Do you ever tell your friends that something you purchased is “Great” - because you're too embarrassed to admit that you made a poor choice?

Perhaps the most dangerous of all… have you ever realized that you had slipped into denial after convincing yourself that something substandard was “excellent”? This most often occurs when a substandard product is promoted as being “exclusive” and only purchased by the most discerning of customers (indicating a high social status)… and sold at an inflated cost.

The vast majority of customer surveys will not differentiate how the above influences distort the data in customer surveys.

In the end, an educated consumer - making informed decisions - is the only truly happy customer.

Whether products or services, gaining repeat customers and building a positive reputation requires some degree of customer education - typically through simply providing sufficient information to them to ensure that your products/services align with their expectations.

If you REALLY REALLY want a Movie Gun

If you REALLY want to have some “cool” guns from movies, and can afford it, just buy one (or more) of the top 5 guns from the John Wick movies. He used several EXCELLENT customized guns from Taran Tactical along with a HK P30L (which is the most affordable pistol John Wick used - even after adding the compensator seen in the movie). He also used a KSG 12 shotgun - which has been replaced by the KSG Tactical (it basically looks the same). You should recognize them fairly quickly. Sure. They may not fit your hands, and you may not be able to handle their recoil. But if you can, great. Go out and start spending time in tactical training. Otherwise, just buy them for social status and show them to your friends.