Cloud cuckoo-land

“What matters to me as a customer is getting everything for free. I’d appreciate it if all organisations could just go ahead and arrange that please. No, I didn’t think so.”

This comment left on a recent post shows the typical command and control response to the idea that organisations should find out what matters to customers.
There’s a fear that the customer will turn out to be a unreasonable diva demanding the moon on a stick.

What the customer doesn’t want

This is total balls.

It is a fear caused by ignorance, ignorance of what actually matters to customers and a knee jerk response to a loss of control, that customers should get what they’re given.

Instead of giving in to this fear, find out what matters to customers by studying them. Get data. Don’t just ASSUME what they like and need.

Find out by observing what matters to them. Ask them even. It’ll not be unsurprising if they say in large enough numbers that price matters to them. They might not though, I’m guessing that a patient in the NHS wouldn’t even imagine that price would be a factor. Just as much as a customer in the market for a burger and fries to eat quickly on the go, that they wouldn’t expect Macdonald’s to give’em away for free.

I’m guessing this, YOU however should go study, get data, find out empirically.

But what you don’t do is guess. Like this character leaving the comment above guessing that of course everybody wants stuff for free. I do! I’d LOVE stuff for free! But it’s not what matters to me. What matters depends. I want free air,I don’t want pay for it. But I’m fine with paying a reasonable amount for a burger.

But if I’m looking for a burger what matters is different from what matters when I’m booking a holiday, or buying a car. Cost, price, free things, all depend on the context.

If you find that customers predictably do want everything for free, then you are in a tough business. Perhaps you’re selling sand to Arabs or snow to Eskimo? There’s plenty other customers out there, perhaps try selling sand to Eskimo and snow to Arabs instead?

I once had a manager who had the same attitude as the commenter, that asking customers what they wanted is silly. He worked in Local Government and said if we asked residents what they wanted, actual words, “they’d all want swimming pools“.

Now I’m guessing this not the case. But don’t guess, go study. Find out. That old manager never did, they thought just as the commenter did, that customers are free-loaders who will take you for a mug if you let them.

Now I think THAT is living in cloud Cuckoo land.

This entry was posted in clarity of purpose, command and control, customer, Demand, systems thinking, vanguard method and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Cloud cuckoo-land

  1. Bob Ainsworth says:

    And by saying this (that customers want everything free), they are more or less saying that their customers are morons and they know best, as to what their customer wants.

    I really want to rant here as it pisses me off no end when I see the insane things my company does and I can’t do anything about it because everyone is in command and control mode and just doesn’t understand ST.


  2. Screaming Lord Such says:

    I’m thinking of buying a TV which is sold in three shops – Shop 1 has it for sale for £199.99. Shop B has it for sale for £99.99. Shop C has it for sale for £0. Which shop will i get it from? Price is everything these days. Wages are low and not keeping up with inflation, unemployment levels high (masked by government figures), personal debt ever-increasing. The systems thinking examples in the previous article are far too simplistic and sadly out of touch with the modern day customer. If you offer the average consumer the moon on a stick they’ll ask if it’s buy one get one free.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      So where IS this shop that can sell things for nothing? Given that this doesn’t exist, and there’s only the two other shops that sell for £199 and £99, the toss up is between these two. And given, ooh you know, the nature of reality and that, these two TV sets won’t be the same model cos one is twice the price of the other, then we really just have two different TV sets that are priced differently. A bit like in reality, rather than a metaphor, there are different products that offer different things at different prices, depending on WHAT MATTERS to the customer.
      So you COULD buy an iPhone if you could afford it, and whst matters to you is the Apple experience. Or a budget android if what mattered to you was something else. Like money, or what android phones offer.
      In the end though what matters is the thing that matters. Which is where we came in. If you want to see better more realistic examples that are not simplistic because they actually are real and happened then please re-read the original article. Cos they DID reduce costs by giving people what mattered to them. Here this one

      If you want to see private sector examples of doing things right and making customers happy by giving them what matters to them, the examples are harder to find cos private sector companies tend to be more secretive, but there’s this for a starter.


  3. Screaming Lord Such says:

    “So where IS this shop that can sell things for nothing?”
    It doesn’t exist. It can’t exist and the reason why is that it is ludicrous. Yet your advice in the previous article is to give the customer whatever they want, which is free stuff. Ok, example taken to the extreme i’ll give you that. More likely at a price that is so low that it’s not financially viable for the seller to do so.


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Aah, hang on. I’m falling into THE TRAP.
      The usual and common trap, the one of TRYING TO PERSUADE. it’s an easy one to fall into, or onto. I do it regularly, I’ll probably never stop completely. It’s the trap of trying to PUSH thinking or solutions onto others. Logically trying to persuade. It doesn’t matter what I type here. Who cares? It’s just black shapes on a screen. If you find it either helpful or interesting, then great. If you don’t, then great too. It doesn’t matter!
      Pull it if it helps you or you get something from it. Ignore if you don’t. Leave a comment debating or arguing or refuting what I type, and I’ll probably reply. But arguing here does nothing for anyone. Not for you, or me. No thinking is REFINED, no fundamental positions reconsidered. This is THE INTERNET. nobody EVER at any point concedes or says “you know what, I change my mind”.
      So, either I’m not ready for you, or youre not ready for me, or I’m a lazy arse who can’t be bothered arguing the toss. Either way, it don’t matter


    • ThinkPurpose says:

      Heres something I found, a thorough analysis of the problems a community needed help with.
      And it’s not the moon on a stick. No free swimming pools here.


  4. ThinkPurpose says:

    In short, if there was a real world problem that you’d asked for some help on, I’d suggest trying this. If there isn’t, and there ISN’T, then it’s all just hot air really.


  5. cricket says:

    There is a difference between asking what they want and automatically giving then what they say they want.

    The only way to give them anything close to what they want is to know what it is.

    Most people, if you say that the moon on a stick will mean no healthcare and higher taxes will be willing to give you another suggestion.

    Another danger is constantly asking what they want, then ignoring the results. “No, because…” Or “assuming we do that, which of these choices do you want us to use to balance the budget” is better than silence.


  6. Pingback: Why WIFFY’s are bad and to be squashed at birth | thinkpurpose

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