By R. Christopher Haines, Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer
Doesn’t it seem like business people are always chasing the next great customer — or, at the very least, like they’re constantly trying to change who they are or to reinvent themselves? But what about the people who liked them the way they were? What about the people who thought they were doing things well before and were their loyal customers?
There was a time I loved a certain fast-food chain. I ate there weekly for years and years (against my doctor’s wishes). It was a place I enjoyed as a child and even more as an adult. It was close to my office, so it was easy for me to go there. Even when I was a kid, they did a number of things to add and subtract offerings to their menu. But they always stayed true to the core items for which they were known. But a few years ago, that all changed, And I still haven’t figured out why.
This chain always had thin hamburger patties. Then they made them thick. Not the end of the world, just not the same. The final straw was that they changed the pickle. They’d always used dill pickle slices. But they changed to a sweet pickle. Why? When you’ve enjoyed something for 35 years of your life, that’s a big change. I struggle to understand it.
My guess is some kind of market research told them to change the pickle and their patties. The chain was never number one or two. Maybe they’re chasing number one. Or maybe they should just be comfortable in their own skin.
They had many customers who liked them the way they were, supported them, and ate at their restaurants. But they seem to have turned their back on all of them to chase … what? Who?
Has your company done that? Have you forgotten about the customers that got you where you are for the sake of chasing down that big, new customer? Do you listen to outsiders who tell you what’s wrong with your organization, even though they’ve never bought anything from you? Why? Do they claim to be industry experts?
Maybe you should perfect your current offerings, take care of your current customers, and the rest will take care of itself.
I ate at my old favorite fast-food chain a couple of weeks ago for the first time in a few years. I used to eat there weekly. They didn’t seem to think my opinion of their products was good enough. So I moved on.
Do you want your customers to do the same? Stay true to who you are, work to perfect your offerings, treat your customers right, and you might be amazed with the results.
If you don’t know who you are or what you do well, the next great customer is a pipe dream anyway.