More. More time, more money, more vacation, more marshmallows — more is a good thing, right? Well, not always. Presenting a person with more options is one of those tricky situations when more is not always best.
At a credit union, for example, offering more products seems like it would benefit both the institution and its members. But as it turns out, that might not be the case.
This quarter’s “Diversions” offers a look at two examples where more is just too much and considers what credit unions gain from pausing before jumping into more more more.
Speed dating offers an experience for singles to meet potential partners by spending approximately five minutes with suitors on a rotational schedule throughout an evening. At the end of the event, participants write down the matches they would like to see again. Then, the organizer puts couples that have chosen each other in touch.
Speed dating’s solution to finding that perfect person is to present a participant with a multitude of options, hoping one will stick. The underlying logic makes sense, considering the frequency at which people lament the lack of available mates.
Scientists and psychologists love to study speed dating, and one thing they’ve found is that offering more suitors does not increase matches.
A 2011 study titled “Too Much of A Good Thing? Variety is Confusing in Mate Choice,” examined the behavior of speed dating events, denoting groups with fewer than 23 people a small group and groups with more than 23 people a large group. The scientists found participants at large events were less likely to match with someone and more likely to choose no one at all.
The experimenters concluded, “In contexts in which time is a limited resource, choice variety rather than facilitating choice quality … is confusing and potentially detrimental to choice quality.”
In other words, in trying to help singles by introducing them to more people, organizers of speed dating events could, in fact, be decreasing participants’ chances of making a match.
McDonald’s, like many companies in the service industry, has its eye on growing market share. But the burger baron has learned that more choices do not necessarily equate to satisfied customers.
According to a 2014 Wall Street Journal article, McDonald’s menu increased from 85 items in 2007 to 121 in 2014. That well-intentioned 42.4% increase in menu options has deeply impacted efficiency and caused problems for employees, who are expected to make new and often more complicated dishes while still providing reliably quick service, the WSJ piece says.
In 2012, McDonald’s introduced the McWrap, a tortilla wrap with grilled chicken and fresh vegetables, to appeal to healthy-minded customers. However, sales paled in comparison to the traditional McDonald’s cheeseburger. Additionally, the wrap took more than 60 seconds to assemble, which is a long time considering the service goal of McDonald’s is to move customers through the drive-through in less than 90 seconds. The McWrap did little to attract new consumers and had a negative impact on the quality of service.
McDonald’s put its menu on a diet and started to phase out the McWrap and several other items in summer 2016, Bloomberg Businessweek reports, as McDonald’s apparently returns to focusing on the value of its core offerings.
Speed dating and McDonald’s illuminate the problem created when decision-makers are faced with too many options.
Credit unions, too, can face a combination of these problems by offering members too much.
It can be tempting when a credit union sees a popular product being offered by a nearby financial institution to introduce a similar product to its members. It’s natural to assume that more products will lead to greater member satisfaction.
But that’s not always the case. And if members are satisfied with the credit union’s offerings, then introducing more products could lead to higher costs with little to no member benefit.
Fewer options offer clearer distinctions among products and support quicker interactions. And when it comes to cross selling, branch employees that have a few solid options from which to choose can easily assess the best fit for each member’s individual needs.
Bottom line: Credit unions would do well to be conscientious of both members’ needs as well as the impact to the front line when the institution introduces a new product. Take a second to evaluate whether more is really better.
Providing more offerings in the hopes of matching consumers with their perfect person/hamburger/loan can end up confusing everyone.
Introduce members to eight single women instead of 20, offer them a tried-and-true cheeseburger instead of something staff members don’t know how to prepare, and stick to great service and great rates instead of chasing potentially unprofitable, member unfriendly ideas.