Has anyone else noticed that the overall quality of the goods and services we’re purchasing has dropped in the past year? Hotels that previously offered free breakfasts now don’t. They don’t provide room cleaning for guests staying more than one night, either. Some hotels don’t even have coffee makers in their rooms anymore. Meal portions look smaller in our favorite restaurants, and wait times are longer for almost everything. Everywhere we look, little amenities we’ve come to expect or rely on are missing.
And have you noticed something else? The prices we’re paying for goods and services haven’t changed. We’re spending the same but getting less for our money.
A Different Form of Inflation
This condition has become so prevalent that National Public Radio coined the term skimpflation to describe it, defining skimpflation like this: “… a condition where we’re paying the same or more for services, but they kinda suck compared with what they used to be…It’s when, instead of simply raising prices, companies skimp on the goods and services they provide.” It’s a different form of inflation. Your dollars aren’t going as far, not because of price increases, but because of quality decreases.
Skimp does seem to be the right word for what’s happening. Here’s how the American Heritage Dictionary defines it.
- To deal with hastily, carelessly, or with poor material
- To provide for or supply inadequately; be stingy with
That sums it up, doesn’t it?
Why are companies treating customers this way? Are they still trying to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic? Are they merely trying to boost revenues in the name of profits? And the bigger question: Are they really naive enough to think consumers won’t notice the change?
Owners Have a Lot On Their Plates
Business owners admittedly have a lot to deal with right now. Supply chains still have some challenges, although two years into the pandemic, many industries have returned to normal or near-normal. The Great Resignation hit businesses hard, too. Employees have walked in droves out of places of employment that no longer serve their needs. Many workers are demanding better pay, benefits, and more flexible work schedules. Business owners are having trouble finding and keeping qualified employees at a reasonable cost. All these issues make turning a profit more difficult.
And so, small corners get cut. Little by little, companies whittle away the amenities customers have come to expect. Car dealerships no longer provide free bottles of water to customers waiting to have their vehicles serviced. Hotels do away with coffee makers and continental breakfasts. Airlines don’t offer even a meager snack. And Disneyworld discontinues tram service from parking lots to the front entry gate. How many parents with small children in tow noticed that one right away?
Do businesses engaging in skimpflation tactics think consumers are mindless and ignorant? Probably not. It’s likely they’re just paying more attention to the bottom line than to their customers’ needs and experiences. After all, customers are free to go elsewhere if they want — if they can find a company that still provides the quality they’re looking for.
What this Means for You
What does all this mean for you? It’s simple. The widespread prevalence of skimpflation across industries means it’s easier than ever for you to wow your customers. It doesn’t take much. An extra phone call or email here; a bottle of water there. A friendly smile. The willingness to explain something, answer a question, or rectify a problem satisfactorily.
Nowadays, it only takes a little extra effort to make your company stand out from the competition. And your customers will notice. They’ll be pleasantly surprised. They may even tell their friends.
Do you want to get ahead in business? Keep doing what you’ve been doing. Continue providing the goods and services your customers have come to expect from your company. And don’t cut corners. Treat your customers with respect, and you’ll be amazed at the payback you get in goodwill and customer referrals.
It only takes a little effort to be the best these days. So do it! Your customers will notice, and your business will grow because of it.