Monday, February 13, 2012

Are you willing to let the customer be "right"?

I am aware of two different customer - service provider transactions that took place within the last year.

The two instances are seemingly different - one involved a clothing purchase, and one involved a meeting schedule.

But there is one similarity between them - the customer wanted one thing, and the service provider insisted on offering something else against the customer's wishes.

And I also know the end result in both instances. In one case the customer didn't prevail and took his business elsewhere. In the other case the customer did prevail, but the customer was already thinking about taking his business elsewhere, and this influenced the customer's decision.

Now when we're the customer, we can easily identify with these results. As long as the customer isn't asking the service provider to do something illegal or immoral, the old adage "the customer is always right" applies.

OK, so that's how we feel when we're the customer. What if we're the service provider?

Now I know that many of you aren't independent contractors or business owners - I'm not either. But all of us are service providers in one way or another.

As a proposal writer, my "customer" is the salesperson who wants to sell the computer system - I need to make this salesperson happy. Of course, the salespeople that I work with are perfect and would never ask me to use incomprehensible jargon or anything like that. (Oh, they're reading this? I had no idea.)

Even if you're an eight year old kid, you are a service provider for a customer, your mother, and when your mother asks you to clean your room, you do it. Now. Stop reading those stupid blogs and pick up your socks.

(Incidentally, if there are any eight year old kids who read the Empoprise-BI business blog, please leave a comment. I'd love to know about your mom's/dad's parenting skills.)

Let me give us an example torn from yesterday's headlines. I don't know the name of one of the people who was involved in this conversation, but you know that person exists, and you know that this conversation happened. For purposes of this blog post, we'll call the person Kathy. I take you to the headquarters for the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team. It's the summer of 2010.

KATHY: Good evening, Mr. Gilbert.

DAN GILBERT: I am steaming! Kathy, put out this press release right now!

KATHY: Um, do you want me to retype it?

DAN GILBERT: No! Put it out right now, just as it is! What, is there a spelling error?

KATHY: No, sir...but it's in Comic Sans font.

DAN GILBERT: I don't care! Put it out now!

And that's exactly what Kathy did.

Because the customer is always right.
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