The Customer Isn’t Always Right: Serving with Purpose

This is totally a hot topic (well for me at least, I get excited over stuff like this all the time), because a lot of us grew up with the mentality that, “the customer is always right.” The internet is full of information and the trend is that customers do research before buying. So, some customers will know the lingo for your service or product, and are able to talk the talk with you, but that knowledge doesn’t mean, “the customer is always right”.

The problem is that some customers don’t know that they don’t really want what they think they want.

A lot of potential customers tell us, “I want SEO.” When we first opened up shop, anytime someone told us that we said: “Awesome, we can totally do SEO marketing for you.” We were excited, because we thought it would be an easy sell. I bet that you can see where this is going, lol.

As we moved forward in discussions and proposing, we found that potential customers were lost in translation. We failed to close deals time and time again.

Finally we asked, “what are we doing wrong?” That was when we realized that we never stopped to ask them questions about why they were asking for these services. We just assumed that when they said they wanted SEO, they just meant SEO, because you know, “the customer is always right,” and he knows exactly what he wants.

Wrong. We need to go deeper.

Does this sound like something you might be doing, or have done in the past? Well it is definitely something that we were doing, and it was bewildering, because we couldn’t figure out why these potential customers weren’t signing. I mean, we were giving them exactly what they wanted, so why didn’t they sign?

Well, we learned that the customer understands where they want to go, but we made some pretty serious assumptions such as: they know what they’re talking about. LOL! As I am writing this, it is so easy to see where we were going wrong. It’s always about more than a website redesign or a new digital marketing campaign.

Here’s another example: I called an expert plumber to fix our toilet. This is his craft and he is the best around. I may talk with him using words like, “pressure release valve,” but just because I know the lingo doesn’t mean that I actually know anything about plumbing.

Then we found that when we viewed our customers as normal people, and not experts, it fixed a lot of issues. We realized that what they really wanted was for us to create a solution to achieve their vision, not just SEO. Man, what a game-changer.

So the moral of this story is to understand that there are a lot of people who appear knowledgeable, but don’t know how to get the job done. That’s why they’re talking to you. They may be looking for a service, but what they really need is a solution to their deeper problem. Serving others is not about the service, but the outcome.

Any plumber can fix a toilet, but how many of them ask for more details to better understand the problem and its effect on you? For example: Say you have a party at 7pm, but your toilet breaks at 2pm. So the average plumber arrives at 4pm, works on it until 5pm, and then goes home, and will have to return tomorrow. This means a bigger bill for two trips. Meanwhile, you’re still stuck with a broken toilet at your house and guests are arriving soon.

The outcome-based plumber asked the right questions on the phone earlier, arrives at 4pm, but instead of leaving right at 5pm, he stays until 5:30pm to get the job done, because he knows how important it is for you, and the consequences that will directly affect you.

Which plumber would you prefer?

You guys are probably smarter than I am, have already figured this out, and are like, “duh,” but I hope that this helps you talk with your customers. Just remember that the internet is full of information and the trend is that people do a little bit of research before talking with you. So obviously they are going to know the lingo, but that doesn’t mean they really understand what it means on a deeper level.

Customers come to you with problems, and they might have a solution in mind; the fact is that problems are like icebergs, there’s more beneath the surface.

“The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
Proverbs 20:5