Consumer Confusion

This weekend, my husband and I decided to finally replace our very old washer and dryer.  After doing all the requisite research, shopping, reading reviews, etc, we decided that we should get one of the new machines that use very little water.  As we were placing the order with the appliance company, we were reading some information that suggested we use a low-sudsing laundry soap.  No problem, we thought, that makes sense.

Well, the manufacturer suggested a brand of laundry soap that we don't see very often in our local grocery store, so we thought we'd just find another.  Well, after looking around, we found some that say they are HE.  Looking into that a little more, we learned that HE is for High Efficiency machines.  This is probably what we need to use, but I found it odd that nowhere on the HE package did it indicate that this was a low sudsing detergent.  This got me a little miffed.  After reading all the information, I concluded that we are probably making the right choice, but why couldn't the detergent manufacturer and the machine manufacturer simply use the same terms?  Why is it that the consumer is left with the job of doing the math and making the connection? 

I'm sure that both companies were trying to do what they felt was easiest for the consumer.  The machine manufacturer is trying to describe the detergent (low sudsing), and the detergent manufacturer is trying to describe the machine (high efficiency).  What is easiest for the consumer, however, is consistency.  The consumer needs for these companies to talk to each other, to create a consistent consumer experience.  They should support each other, and not behave as they would toward a competitor.

Think about your company.  How often do you encourage others to look beyond their immediate sphere of influence to think holistically about the consumer experience?  What people, groups, or companies should you be working with that do not live inside your company, yet are trying to improve your consumers' experience?