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Why You Should Do What Your Customer Wants

July 15, 2010

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In business, it’s important to find out what your customers want and then to do that.  If they want frappuccinos, you need to make frappuccinos.  It doesn’t matter if you like lattes.

Quite often, however,  it’s not that simple.  Many times business owners are biased and think that all of their customers think like them and want what they want.  Other times, companies have done business a certain way for a long time and are reluctant to change.    Both scenarios are bad.  Companies must give customers what they want, even if that requires a change.

One example of giving your customer what they want and changing with your customer is the music industry.  Some time around the late 1990s and early 2000s, music MP3s started to be a big deal.  People didn’t want to buy CDs anymore; they wanted download MP3s.   But music companies couldn’t control MP3 sales as much as they wanted to.  Besides that, switching to a download format was a huge change that undermined the way music companies knew how to do business.  They knew how to make CDs; they didn’t know how to sell music downloads.  They were scared.

Since they were scared, they resisted the change to MP3s for music.  They fought.  They clawed.  They refused to switch to selling MP3s.  But there was a problem.  People wanted to download music.  They didn’t care what the music companies wanted to do.  They wanted to download music.  Since the music companies fought, people downloaded illegally.  They used Napster and Limewire, and they downloaded music their way.  This cost music companies a lot of money.

The problem was that music companies were not willing to change.  They wanted people to do business their way.  Consumers weren’t listening.  They had a better way.  Eventually, the consumer won, and record companies started to provide what consumers wanted — music for download.  Now, music companies get to make their money, and music listeners get their music.  Everyone is happy.

The lesson to be learned is that companies need to do what customers want, not force customers to do what the company wants.  You can arm wrestle your customers if you really want to, but be warned — customers always win.  Instead, keep your customers happy by doing business their way.  You’ll make more money that way.


From → Marketing Tips

  1. Great idea you share here. I totally agree with you. Companies need to be able to adopt fast to the changing wants of their customers. And those who adopt to this the fastest are usually the most successful companies.

  2. josephwesley permalink

    Thanks for the comment Julius. Companies definitely need to adapt fast to customers needs. The problem a lot of times is that larger companies can’t move fast. This is where an opportunity arises for entrepreneurs to start a company that can meet customers needs and put a hurt on the bigger companies. Eventually if they don’t stay agile they will get leapfrogged by the next company, but if they play their cards right, they can stay around for a while. Thanks again!

  3. You make good points here. I would also add that you need to have a very clear idea of who your customers really are, because businesses do get themselves into trouble when they start catering to “fringe customers” at the expense of mainstream customers. Occasionally you will get a very vocal minority that doesn’t represent your primary customer base, and if you change your business model based on those customers, you may wind up turning off the customers that represent the bulk of your business. Thanks for this post.

    • Will,

      That’s a great point. It’s easy to try to please everyone when companies should try to please the customers that matter the most. This seems to happen a lot in advertising when companies want to reach everyone — even fringe customers. Instead, they should focus on the mainstream customers that provide the most business. This is especially true with new products and new business models.

      Thanks for your comment.

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