The Customer is Always Right? Not anymore.

We’ve all heard the old adage that the “customer is always right.” Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that just isn’t true.  What is true is that the “customer always knows what he wants.” Let me explain.

In the business world, you have customers and suppliers.  Customers always go to a supplier knowing what they want.  It is the supplier who tries to influence what they perceive to want.  A customer goes to a car dealership.  He wants a car, but does he choose new or used? Leather or cloth? Rag-top or not? Car, truck, SUV, or something else?  All the customer knows is that he needs a car and that he has a budget he has to maintain.  It becomes the salesman’s responsibility to be the expert in his offerings and make sure that his customer gets what he wants.  The salesman has to ask certain questions to narrow the search down.  This helps the customer refine his perceived want.  If the salesman is good at his job, he can find the perfect vehicle for his customer without busting their budget and netting himself a nice profit.

As a supplier, it behooves us to know our products, offerings, services, or whatever.  Knowing what we can do for a customer – and by extension what we cannot do – ultimately leads to a win-win situation for everyone.  Even if it comes down to pointing the customer to a competitor (not necessarily the most ideal situation), we still win.  What we provide may ultimately end up being what that customer needs.  It’s kind of like another adage: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”  Well, you can lead a customer to a product or service, but you can’t force him to buy it.  So always remember that your customers know what they want, you just have to prove to them that you are the best supplier for them!

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