September 2012 – More, More, More…


I listened to someone recently complaining about his customers. He told me that everyone is hard to satisfy and that all his customers seem to constantly want more. More attention, more response, more discounts, more hand holding and more innovation.

I found this interesting. I told him I certainly understood how he felt but that I thought he was fortunate. His customers weren’t telling him they wanted less of him, they weren’t telling him they were leaving and going elsewhere, they were simply exercising their rights as customers. In every competitive event, don’t we expect contestants to run faster, jump higher and throw farther? Would you buy a ticket to see someone swim the 200 meter freestyle slower than last year? Not likely.

Customers aren’t going to pay us to feel sorry for ourselves. You might get some pity if you work for free but if you’re charging what the work is worth, you shouldn’t plan on a pity party. It’s part of good service to stay focused and motivated to raise the bar, not rest on it. The old 80/20 rule of caring is that 80% of our customers don’t care that we have problems and the other 20% may be glad we do. In customer relationships, sympathy is optional. You may get it, if you’re lucky, but don’t wait around expecting it. What we must remember is that it is our customer’s job to ask for more service, to ask for a lower price, to tell us we are too expensive, and to spend more time concentrating on what we can do better, than congratulating us for what we do well.

None of us invented the rules of customer relationships…we just live them. The conditions of any competitive relationship aren’t easy, but they are fruitful. None of us ever learned or improved by sitting back. It is our job to remind our people and ourselves that our customers aren’t an inconvenience, they’re our life blood. Customers are not a source of frustration, stress and failure. Customers simply present us with an opportunity to perform. When we perform well, they want more of us. We then can flourish, grow, and profit. When we make our customer the enemy we find out we are only fighting ourselves. Take a deep breath, count your blessings and take responsibility for the outcome. Blame yourself before you blame your customer.

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