Political Product Selection

My eldest son learned an important lesson yesterday.

It was his first ‘solo’ shopping trip where he wanted to purchase some clothes, free from the ‘uncool’ influence of Mum and Dad. Actually, only Dad is uncool as Mum actually has some fashion sense!

Anyway, he caught the bus into the city and visited a number of stores to find what he wanted. He eventually settled on a jumper from one of the retailers located within the Myer department store.

However, try as he might he couldn’t attract the attention of the two shop assistants who were busy picking over the ruins of their social life and couldn’t care less about him.

In true Bernardi style, he thought ‘if these people don’t want my money then I won’t give it to them’ and walked away. He then went to a comparable brand retail counter just a few metres away. There the attendant was very helpful; pointing out what might suit him and the items that were on special.

When he told me what had happened I was delighted. Not because he had a bad experience but because he saw firsthand the difference that customer service makes in a business. If your customer is made to feel irrelevant to the sales process they will go somewhere else. It also highlighted just how important good team members can be to the success of a business.

As we were busy discussing these concepts I thought just how applicable they are to politics. Barnaby Joyce was once described as an extraordinary ‘retail politician’. There are others in the same mould – Ron Boswell, Nick Xenophon and Bob Day all have excellent ‘cut-through’ with the public.

They are supported (as are many local MPs) because they are seen to be helping the politicians’ customer – the voter. Naturally not everyone will agree with their approach or their individual views but that is why we have a diversity of people in public life. Just like a retail mall or department store, every voter can choose the pollie they want to support.

One could extrapolate this theory even further by likening the major political parties to the large department stores containing an extensive variety of products (and viewpoints). Customers might not like some of them but are still generally happy to shop in the same store because they like the overall positioning.

And therein lies the challenge for the big department stores (major parties) over the more nimble independents. A diversity of offerings and opinions needs to be seen as a competitive advantage rather than indicative of a flaw in the system as it is often characterised in the media.

That way, people don’t have to actually change their party of choice in order to find a champion for their own cause or idea. Much like my son who still spent his money in Myer but chose the assistant who cared about his business the most.

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