Customers Don’t Buy What You Sell

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Posted by: briansittley Comments: 0 0 Post Date: February 15, 2010

In a recent article in the February issue of CRM Magazine by the above title, author Lior Arussy makes a great point via a story, that I’ll briefly paraphrase below.

Guy has a ticket for a flight but at the airport ahead of time, he asks to change it to an earlier flight, so he can catch his daughter’s basketball game back home that night as he’d promised her he would.

He’s filled with trepidation, fear of The Big No, problem attitudes and all the rest of the anxiety you might fear in the same situation.  He really wanted to be at that game to put that smile on his daughter’s face.

A few clicks and calls later, the agent was able to swap his ticket and secure him the last available seat on that flight.  He made his daughter’s game.  Mission accomplished.

It’s a true story, Arussy points out.  But his greater point is this: “It’s the story of why companies too often fail to grasp the whole concept of the customer experience.”

When employees simply operate the process, or fulfill the customer transaction and the company is “merely the sum total of the transactions it completes,” the view of the customer gets lost.  Thus, what you sell is not what they buy.  In our story above, selling the ticket wasn’t the issue.  The customer experience was one of gratitude and appreciation, no doubt.  Think he’ll fly that airline again?

We all need to become more customer-centric, and appreciate how our product or service influences, or even changes, our customers’ lives.  Where do we fit?  What dreams do we fulfill?  What are the consequences of failing to satisfy the customer?  What impact will an exceptional experience have on the customer?

In our field, it’s a tough business.  Expectations are oh-so-high, while capability to deliver is oh-so-complex, and often low.  Still, it’s pretty hard to position “We Rarely Let Our Customers Down” as your competitive advantage. 

It comes down to this.  You have to really be able to look at your customers, look at their expectations, and open yourself to creating interpretations of what it means to satisfy that customer.  It’s an individualized experience. 

And in my experience, it has to come as much from the hearts of your company’s people as it does their heads.

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