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Working for your customers can be bad for business

This is an odd one but stick with it...

Customers can be a real pain can’t they?

Our best advice is that you should never work for another customer again.

We never work for any.

It really isn’t a good thing to do and your business would do a lot better if you did the same!

So, that's a joke – right? Well a little tonge in cheak let's say...

Working for customers is extremely bad for your business. But before you go off and tell others that Cracking Media are Crack Pots – wait a moment… It is true that customers can be a real pain – we have all had customers like that.

It is also true that you should never work for any customer, BUT we do wholeheartedly recommend that you should work with your customers.

So not for but with!

The difference in the two statements above is a subtle but important one. You will have heard people say of a sales person that he/she could sell snow to the Eskimos. It's as if we should be impressed at how brilliant the person is at sales. But did anyone ask the Eskimo if he needed any snow?

The fact is, he didn't! But that's the same thing that happens when you are so obsessed with the things you can do for a customer - because selling a solution is really the focus of your attention - that you fail to understand the problem your customer needs solving. Many companies have great products or services, but are really poor at listening to their customer.

Rather than taking the time to fully understand the problem their customer needs solving, they impose a solution on them. This often results in the customer spending lots of money and the company they employ solving very little. In fact, in some cases, the solution has solved nothing and ended up costing the customer even more.

They were sold snow but didn't need any! Finding the right solution for your customer comes about when there is a marriage of expertise. Your customer is an expert at what they do and so will understand their business better than you do. You are of course an expert at what you do - your customer wouldn't expect anything less - but the key to providing a successful solution for your customer is to work with them not for them.

  • That means listening to your customer - the expert on their business.
  • That means taking time to understand the problems they need solving.
  • That means working with your customer to work out how you can best help them.

It sounds simple, but many businesses fail their customers because they get carried away with finding and imposing a solution without ever really understanding the problem. That doesn't mean you should be passive in your relationship with your customer. Listening and understanding the problems your customer needs solving is an active role but it is only part of your role.

As an expert in the products or services you provide you must also be an educator. It is your responsibility to give your customer advice and direction whilst remembering that although the customer isn't always right, they are always the customer. So, if you want to be successful at solving problems for your customers then start working with them.

And if you are a customer looking for a business to solve your problem, make sure you find a business that will listen to you and work with you, not for you.

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