When I was visiting my sister and her family over the Thanksgiving holiday, we got into a conversation about customer service based on an instance where my two nephews were attempting to order at Panda Express. The key word here is “attempting.”
My brother-in-law had sent them into the restaurant by themselves to order egg rolls. Since they are the last thing on the line of food offerings, the boys went directly to the register, but were promptly told to head to the end of the line. Then, the employee filling food orders kept skipping over them and taking orders from people who were actually in line behind them.
After waiting outside for what was too long given their “easy” order, their dad headed in to see what was the hold up. The response by management was more of an “oops” than an apology; an assumption that they were with one of the grown-ups and didn’t need to be helped. To add insult to injury, the egg rolls were all gone by the time my brother-in-law intervened.
We all want to go after that ‘big fish’
The boys had been overlooked, even though they were just as much buyers as the adults in line. They were viewed as “small customers;” ones who surely weren’t as valuable as those with jobs and fat wallets.
Chasing Money vs. Chasing Longevity
We all want to go after that “big fish.” A sizable sale to one customer or client can have a significant impact on a company’s bottom line, and those purchases are certainly welcome—when they come. Unfortunately, big contracts are sometimes hard to land. And, large buyers often arrive with strings attached. They expect a volume of benefits they believe to be commensurate to their purchase price, even if that’s beyond the scope of reality.
In my past work experience, I witnessed this firsthand when company leaders refused to create smaller packages for smaller client needs because that “wouldn’t make the investors happy.” The business plan was to only go after big buyers, despite the fact that those types of clients were often unable to meet production deadlines for the amount of content the contract called for. The result? Clients feeling cheated, disgruntled, and some opting not to renew.
In short, the company was only chasing the money, not the longevity happy clients provide—no matter how small those clients are.
Who Are You Best Equipped to Service?
The company was only chasing the money, not the longevity happy clients provide.
When we started working on refreshing the White Space value prop, one of the critical exercises we employed was creating buyer personas. It helped us narrow our focus as to what an ideal client looks like—and also helped us recognize if that ideal client matched up with our own core values. We defined primary and secondary goals and challenges (and our solutions), how they currently view their companies, objections that might arise, and even personality characteristics (e.g. visionary, ambitious, trusting).
We ultimately discovered the type of companies we’re best equipped to guide, which are mid-sized entities who are experts in their field but just need that extra hand to realize growth. Every company is unique, of course, and some are better fit for servicing those small fish (or the really big ones).
In all of this, the key to becoming and maintaining a healthy, helpful brand is coming to understand the value in your customers—and how you can meet their expectations and needs—regardless of their size or realistic financial investment. That’s true “customer service,” which really should be the foundation of any company-client relationship.
P.S. To be fair, Panda Express did make it right in the end. Even though my nephews had to wait another 20 minutes for fresh egg rolls, management threw in a few extra for free. That small gesture could have been the difference between happy Panda Express fans and never patronizing the establishment again.