There is an interesting asymmetry in business. Despite teams of people dedicated to customer service and care, customers themselves do not care about our products, our services, or us. “But surely this can’t be true! If customers didn’t care about our products and services they wouldn’t buy them.” So what exactly do I mean when I write that customers do not care?
Customers don’t care about us. Customers do care about their goals, their objectives, their deadlines and their problems. In a perfect world, customers would not even experience the problem (or “challenge,” if you like business-speak) that makes our product(s) necessary. Though we invest exorbitant amounts of money to create our solution, position it in the market, and determine optimal pricing, our solutions remain merely a means to an end – the end of a customer problem. Customers may be interested in our products, but only to the extent that they help them solve their challenges.
Consider this example to illustrate the distinction. The customer who purchases a ¼-inch drill bit doesn’t really want the drill bit. What they want is a ¼-inch hole.
If customers could have a ¼-inch hole without the drill bit, they would be even happier. But because customers need holes, they purchase drill bits to accomplish that goal. In the world of product development, marketing, and selling, we would be wise to remember that our products and services are merely ways for customers to achieve their objectives – nothing more.
Even though customers don’t care, don’t despair. The pivot point is to thrive by identifying why what your company does matters [to customers]. The difference represents a fundamental change of perspective which we’ll tackle in the next post.