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PCT2010 - Customer is Never Right


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  • 1. The Customer is Never Right
    Keynote Session
    By: Stephen Pollack
    Serial Entrepreneur
    Entrepreneurs Seeking Excellence
  • 2. My customers look to me as a subject-matter expert. 
    They expect me to always know a bit more than they do about the business. 
    They are looking for solutions to enhance their own success; only occasionally do I find that they give me ideas I have not already developed.  
    When I’m a buyer, I lose confidence in a supplier if I know more about what I am looking for than they do. My tendency is to put them aside and look for a more experienced individual to deal with – as a Product Manager; I never want that to happen to me.
    I Am Always Right
  • 3. My customers are the best test vehicles.
    I regularly take my core customers to a special “idea” shelf.  My main goal is to test innovation and demonstrate thought leadership, but mostly my goal is to obtain a thoughtful reaction. 
    If negative, I lower the priority of a new idea. If positive, I often move to the steps of a “new idea” process and start to explore how it can become part of my mainstream business. 
    As a subject-matter expert, I view it as my responsibility to innovate and the only way this can happen is to know the business of my customers and involve them in realizing innovation.
    My Customers Tell Me I am Right
  • 4. My customers want to know I care about them.
    If I miss a customer call, I make sure I call back right away. 
    If I go away on vacation, I make sure someone follows up with a message giving the customer the option of waiting for me to return or speaking to someone else.
    I keep track of important details about each customer and use that information to determine how and when I interact with them.
    I always have a list of customers who have previously indicated interest in whatever the product enhancements might be. 
    I Show I Care about My Customers
  • 5. Don’t move faster than your customers can move.
    I store and gather up my ideas for when I need them. 
    My goal is to have the customer buy something from me today, and want to come back for more tomorrow.
    Once my goal is achieved, I don’t need to spend more time selling new ideas. 
    I can save new ideas for when I sense key customer relationships need a boost. 
    It’s like a running race, to win the 100-metre dash you only need to be 1/100th of a second faster than everyone else, being even faster doesn’t get you any additional prizes.
    I Keep Ahead of My Customers (a bit)
  • 6. It is their perspective and it should be valued.
    To grow a business properly, you need to balance how much focus you place on satisfying the needs of existing customers versus those of the broader market.
    It's not an easy balance to make given how vocal customers can be.
    It is far too easy to fall into the trap of addressing customers ahead of the market, especially when their voices are so easily heard and become almost the default evidence to support a product change.
    Evidence related to addressing market needs often comes more from intuition and thought leadership which is less factual or scientific -- hard arguments to win in a product planning activity.
    The Customer is Clearly Right
  • 7. Thanks
    Stephen Pollack