Aligning the Expectations of Your Customers
This week, Jon Steinberg of Buzzfeed wrote about the challenges that all businesses face with their consumers and how you can recognize when you’re dealing with a customer that is really not a customer. He outlined how those who are true customers with an intent to purchase a product or service will take it or leave what you’re offering more or less as it is. Those who have no intent of becoming customers may try to negotiative a different type of offering that’s outside of your business structure or they’ll walk.
In any business, it can be tempting to give people what they want. After all, if they’re coming to you asking for something that you can deliver — even if it’s not what you do — and you can make a transaction. Every business likes revenue, but you’ve also got to stick to your core values or you are going to lose your image outright.
David Rich, CEO of ICC/Decision Services, left a comment on this article using Costco as a great example. He said that Costco simply wouldn’t be Costco if they offered to bag your purchases because it’s not who they are. Costco manages to keep costs and labor low by avoiding offering these services, and if they made changes to those things, they’d be straying far away from their whole business model. Sure, at the threat of losing one customer they could theoretically offer up a plastic bag — but then it’s a slippery slope when everyone starts demanding it. The next thing you know, Costco’s prices will be on par with a major department store or specialty grocery store because they’ve had to change the core of who they are.
If customers don’t know what to expect from a business, they’re also never going to be satisfied. Their expectations need to be aligned up front. While there can be some leniency, too much “give” from a retailer is only going to lead to disaster.
You’ve got to set the standards of your business. If you’re going to make changes to your model, do it across the board based on demand. Otherwise, you’re going to lose your image, have no core values to abide by, and have a very confused and generally distressed clientelle.