Customize! We're No Longer Serving Mr & Miss Average

Kay-Lambert Associates Limited

Training, Coaching & Consultancy for Growth

Customize! We’re No Longer Serving Mr & Miss Average

Striking the balance between individualized service or care, and standardized or consistent approaches, is a conundrum for most businesses. 

Customers want customized service. Maybe that’s where the word ‘customer’ comes from. We all have individual needs, desires, motivations and expectations: and we want those who serve us to make us feel that these things have been served.We want our suppliers to customize what they offer and how they provide what they offer.

Yet, at the same time, suppliers strive for consistency and repeat-ability and they create the systems, processes, procedures and methods that seek to deliver this.

Businesses thrive on the notion of customer average. As long as we fit the norm (or within very close parameters) we can be served. If we fall outside that, we’re stuffed! It feels like a ‘take it or leave it’ approach not dissimilar to Henry Ford’s famous saying, “You can have it in any colour as long as it’s black”.

Our national institutions are guiltier of this than those operating in the tough, competitive commercial world. But we rub up against too many instances where we simply aren’t catered for by the companies we try to buy from.

IT and technology is an area where most of us have at some time experienced enormous frustration. Suppliers seem to have assumed a benchmark of computer-savviness among their customers that simply doesn’t exist in most cases. If we have a Masters degree in computer code and programming, we might stand a chance. But most of us learnt our skills as a result of grim determination against a growing tide of technology upgrades that threatened (and still do) to swamp us. We are mostly playing catch-up with the industry, but when we ask for simple advice and simple solutions, suppliers seem unable to dumb down their offering far enough to satisfy us. The result is often that I come off the phone or out the shop being utterly bewildered, feeling completely idiotic, and having spent my cash on something I don’t want, don’t need, and don’t know how to use.

Is it possible to provide a bespoke service (that takes full account of customer diversity) whilst at the same time ensuring that the business is profitable and manageable?

We have to believe that the answer to this question is ‘Yes’, because the alternative is too grim for words. But just supposing we aren’t convinced yet? What then?

It’s great in these situations to ask a well-framed, provocative question. Here it is:

“What if it were true that (insert the relevant assertion here)? How would this change we way we operated?”

The answer will be different depending on your organisation and the words you insert in the brackets.  The question this article would ask is:

“What if it were true that it IS possible to provide a bespoke service (that takes full account of customer diversity), whilst at the same time ensuring our business is profitable and manageable? How would this change we way we operated?”

The drive for standardization (fed by a desire for efficiencies, safety, and consistency) has been so aggressively implemented that it has prevented us from recognizing one simple truth: namely, that people don’t come as standard. Yes, we have similarities, but these pale into insignificance when they come up against our differences. 

So any move towards more and more standardization must provide those people who wish to serve us with the freedom to truly customize their service. It’s the companies that recognize and respond positively to this that will thrive. Don’t be average. I’m not! And I could be one of your customers.

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