Here’s why I ask: I am diving in Cozumel this weekend, but I am thinking about customer service. SCUBA diving is wonderfully relaxing, and the sights are amazing. But I noticed something today that applies to my business and probably to yours as well.
When you go SCUBA diving, you’re led by a Dive Master, an expert diver who really knows the technical side of diving, but also (at least in Cozumel) knows the reefs—they can take you to the prettiest places and show you the coolest things.
On my second dive today, there was a forceful current pulling us along at breakneck speed. Normally that’s not a problem—you literally just go with the flow. Today, however, our Dive Master wanted us to stop all along the way so he could show us everything that was interesting, beautiful, etc. Unfortunately, asking us to fight the current and “stop” to look at stuff was exhausting all of us. We were happy to look at beautiful and interesting things as we floated along, but it hardly seemed worth it to swim hard against the current and use up a bunch of oxygen to see another lobster or lion fish. Were they interesting? Yes. Were they extra worth the effort? No.
In my business, I wonder how often I ask my customers to work too hard, even if it’s ultimately “for their own good.” Things that I find interesting or beautiful may indeed be interesting or beautiful, but is experiencing them worth the effort to my customers? Maybe, maybe not. Here’s what I would recommend:
- Realize there is a current pulling your customers along. If you ask your customers to fight that current, many of them will go elsewhere. Instead of asking them to fight the current, try to figure out how to give your customers what they really want without making them work too hard.
- Stop assuming you know what your customers want. Some customers want the full experience and don’t mind swimming against the current to get it. But there’s a good chance most customers don’t want to work that hard. Instead of assuming you know what your customers want, ask them.
- Segment your customers according to their desires. If you have some customers that want the full experience, give it to them (if you’re set up to do that). Just don’t lump them in with the customers who want the bare minimum. If you have customers that want the bare minimum, give it to them (if you’re equipped to do that). Just don’t make them do more than is necessary to get it.
- The customer may always be right, but may not always be right for you. Sometimes you have to know your core competencies well enough to say “no” to some potential customers so you can say “yes” to the ones you were meant to serve. Maybe you’ve decided to serve only those willing to fight the current. If so, good for you and good luck. Those may be some of your most loyal customers. They might also be some of the hardest to find.
After our second dive, I was talking with a friend who has 1500+ dives to his credit. He’s been in the water A LOT. He shared how he understood what the Dive Master was doing, and he was a really nice guy who meant well. At the same time, he said he’d rather have a different Dive Master (my friend named him, but I won’t here). He said, “He may be a grumpy old bastard, but he knows what he’s doing and he doesn’t make us work that hard.”
Even if you have a great personality and mean well, you may still lose business to grumpy old bastards that don’t make your customers work too hard.
- Have you thought about what you’re asking your customers to do in order to be your customer?
- Is there a way to make it easier for your customers to “go with the flow” so they don’t have to work so hard?
- Or are you trying to weed out the customers who aren’t willing to work that hard for you?
Please share below or email me if you have any questions or comments. And if you can think of a way that I can make it easier for you to be my customer, please share that, too.