The old adage, ‘The customer is always right’, is obsolete. Entrepreneurs need to accept that not every customer is worthy of working with them.
The psychology behind how a company deals with its customers is often cemented in how the organisation’s leaders values their clients. A solid grasp on your value proposition really causes a paradigm shift in how you view your clients and the need for your team to nurture those relationships.
I could refer to Henry Ford’s comment, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” However, a more recent example is Steve Jobs’s divisive statement, “It’s really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” This contradicts the age old adage that ‘The customer is always right’.
Watching some of the leading companies in the digital sphere at the moment, one thing is clear; for those with a valuable proposition, it is less about fighting for individual customers, and more about showcasing what is possible and letting the products speak for themselves. It’s also important to demonstrate the value in what you do, but with the understanding that, in some cases, something else in the market may suit a customer better.
While it’s important to develop a brand is part of your strategy, I’m actually indifferent to the notion that we need to convince someone that our brand is the best fit for them, and am completely against begging them for their business. Our job as leaders of a company, no matter how big or small, is to dictate and demonstrate our value, and to be recognised for it.
Of course, when you consider that your livelihood is dependent on every single new customer, this may be a bitter pill to swallow. Having the chutzpah to say, ‘The customer is not always right’, can be quite difficult, and sometimes costly.
By their very nature, entrepreneurs are often inquisitive. Because of this we are likely to be far more nimble with our business models, and more willing to take on board feedback and adjust. There does come a point though, in every business’s life cycle, when your understanding of your offering is such that you recognise its value.
I have worked with clients who are inspired by what my company can offer them and I also have worked with clients who, no matter what you do, are never quite happy.
The clients who are hard to please, despite having their deliverables met, are clients that bring both you and your team down. In relationship with clients, you want to truly understand their needs and try to provide as much value as possible–not only because you want to have rich relationships but also because, by driving value you are creating repeat customers. But it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes there is simply no opportunity for growth. Why then, do we try to adjust our businesses, our offerings and worse, our price points to fit in with the one client who is, quite frankly, just a wrong fit?
When we are fixated on working with customers who are not the right fit, we inevitably put their needs above our employees who will have to work with them. For example, my sales manager recently had dealings with a client who would receive metric reports but, rather than read them, would email my sales manager and CC all staff asking questions that were answered in the metric. Needless to say, my sales manager started getting stressed out and anxious every time this client’s name would pop up in her inbox. We don’t have time for that. My team delivered brilliant results which, in the end, the client admitted were better than any other content campaigns they had seen previously. When the client wanted to renew their contract we said no, our resources were simply better spent building relationships and providing value with companies that actually ‘get it’.
I am all about drawing information from data that validates that I am leading my company in the right direction and that our strategies are in line with our growth stage. However, if the pattern of business and methodology becomes congruent with dissatisfied customers or consistently not being able to see a lead convert, then as an entrepreneur there is a problem and you are likely asking yourself and your team the wrong questions.
You need to distinguish the difference between getting your offering right and getting your clients right.
The difference is huge and it’s your job to identify that difference and discern appropriately. I am not talking about being closed to feedback or not adjusting to market changes or customer needs. I am talking about the inability to be all things to all men, and the acceptance that not every customer is worthy of working with you.