All Customers Are the Same

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“All customers are the same.”  Thus spoke the contractor doing some work on my house.  Now that phrase probably sent waves of concern over customer experience professionals everywhere because they would say you need to create personas for every different type of customer and adjust your experience design to fit them, etc., etc.  But I am not talking about that perspective. Let’s take a step back to understand what I mean.

Last week, I was speaking with my contractor, Chuck, and we were talking about customers and how they should be treated.  He recounted a story where he met a plumbing contractor who needed some railings for his staircase at home.  This is Chuck’s specialty, really beautiful stuff.  Anyway, sometime later the plumber called him to enquire about costs and style, etc. and said he would call Chuck back.  Much later he called again and they talked about things but with no commitment.  This went on for a while to the point of some frustration on Chuck’s part but he soldiered on as they say and continued being patient and answering questions with a positive attitude.

Then, after much time passed and Chuck thought the opportunity had passed, he got a call from the plumber saying he wanted to get the railings but needed them somewhat quickly.  Chuck, although a bit irritated by the somewhat demanding timing and all the going back and forth on this relatively minor job, went into action and completed the work on time and with the customary “professional” discount.

So, imagine Chuck’s position, he quoted a job at a discount given as a courtesy, then spent time and energy on it even though it seemed like it was going nowhere, was finally given the work but with timing demands, yet he maintained his professionalism and positive-service approach.  Would you have kept your service focus or would you have said no to it and moved on?  Well, Chuck said yes and kept a service focus, and it paid off, the plumber ended up recommending Chuck for a job that resulted in six-digit revenue.

Now I tell this story because I hear and read a lot about the importance of taking care of your top customers, your highest revenue clients first, but Chuck’s real-life example says something different.  Many a contractor I have dealt with before would have blown this job off as being too minor, too much trouble, and not financially worth it, but not Chuck, he was aware of a simple truth, you must treat all customers the same regardless of trouble or revenue, all deserve the same treatment.  You see, you never know who customers talk to and exactly how big a billboard they can be for you.  Customers, large or small, easy or difficult, are all potential marketers.  Their words can make or break your future.

So, my question to you is this, how do you treat your customers?  Are some VIPs or are they all VIPs?  Are you an equal opportunity service provider or do you put the big spenders to the front of the line?  Take a look at your operation and examine things through the lens of customers all being treated the same, what do you see?  What do you need to change?

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