The Customer Is Not Always Right

No, I’m not referring here to the way we manage potentially abusive customers. You don’t have to search too hard to find numerous postings about customer service. Rather, continuing on from my previous post, I’m exploring the gap between what a customer may request or say that they want, what they truly need, and the requirement for suppliers to recognise the difference.

As customers, we perceive the offerings of suppliers and join the lines between what we see is on offer and what we want. Because everything that we do comes from a baseline or point of reference that we have developed through past experience, we frame our desires in terms of the products or services that we perceive. How often have you walked into a store, or browsed a store on line, only to leave empty handed because you didn’t see anything that you wanted to purchase? What about those times when you don’t ask a supplier for what you really need because you’ve already decided that they can’t deliver? As such we may be missing the opportunity for a supplier to satisfy what we really need.

More importantly, as suppliers, the moment that the customer enters into our space, they are presenting us with an opportunity. It should not be acceptable to allow this opportunity to go untapped. How do we maximise that opportunity and ensure that we are helping our customer to fulfill their needs? Ensuring that we capitalise on that opportunity means that we need to look beyond what the customer may initially request. Our capacity to meet the customer’s needs, extends to understanding our customer and placing ourselves in their shoes.

As suppliers, it’s not enough to just advertise the products and services we can provide. To be successful, we need to truly understand our customers and what they really need. Are we making their lives easier and more successful? Can we quantify what constitutes a Successful Customer Outcome (SCO)?

Mick Jagger expressed it well:
“You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.”

If you are just fulfilling customer requests then you will not win market share.

If we are creating successful customer outcomes then our business will in turn be successful.

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