"Mobilize resources to understand and satisfy the customer. That's business. If you're doing anything else, change direction" ~Ben Acheson

“The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer's place." – Orison Swett Marden

Too many times we find ourselves in a tug of war with our customer. I’m not talking about refunds or other policy questions, I’m talking about what the customer really wants from our product and/or service. Think about all of the unreasonable requests that your customers make; wanting more, wanting it cheaper, and wanting it faster. Now think about how you, your department, and company react to those unreasonable requests.

No really. Think for just a second how you react to those unreasonable customer requests?

Great companies and departments put themselves second and focus their resources on fulfilling what the customer wants. They know that if they don’t satisfy what their customer wants, another business will be more than happy to try to fulfill those wants. They don’t waste time arguing internally about:

  • Whether the customer is justified in wanting this – “Where do they come off asking for that!”
  • How the current product/service fulfills some of what they want – Trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.
  • All the reasons you shouldn’t/can’t do it – Usually ignoring all of the reasons you should do it.

Furthermore, great companies/departments look for ways to help themselves when the customer seems to be unwilling to go along with how the company wants/needs to do things. You are rarely able in this competitive marketplace to force a customer to do things the way you want them to, or if you are you are opening the door for a competitor. So you need to adapt to the customer’s processes, not the customer adapting to your processes. Trying to do otherwise just produces aggravation for you and the customer and often wastes both of your time.

I keep two quotes in mind to address both of these customer tension issues:

  • “The customer is always right”
  • “It’s not what happens to you that matters, it’s how you react to what happens to you”

It is from these two things that we learn to regain control and empower ourselves to satisfy the customer. The first quote sets the destination; Customer Satisfaction. After that, it’s just a question of how you do it, NOT whether you do it.

Business is tough, and customers don’t make it easy on you, but your job at the end of the day is to see that the customer is satisfied (OK, really you should be looking to exceed their expectations, but that’s a topic for another post). Wasting time debating whether you should have to satisfy them, or debating why customers don’t behave the way you would like them to, creates nothing but friction, tension, and dissatisfaction in the workplace between you and the customer. React to their want, react to the process they would like to see in place, and see yourself free up time to get to work on helping the customer and yourself.


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