Monday, July 21, 2008

"Sometimes We're Too Busy to Worry About Customers"

A few years ago, I was in Milwaukee with my sons. After visiting the science museum, we went to a nearby Pizza Hut where we placed an order and waited an awfully long time to get our pizza. This restaurant had a sit-down area with tables and several customers, but also obviously had a delivery business as well. During our wait, we watched an angry man who had been there before us finally approach the counter and ask why he still didn't have his pizza after waiting 40 minutes. The clerk pointed to some cardboard boxes and said that his pizza had been there for quite a while already. The man was indignant and asked why he hadn't been told when he had been sitting just a few feet away the whole time. The clerk explained with this simple excuse: "Sometimes we be so busy that we don't have time for customers."

So true!

It's not just pizza places that fall into these priority traps. Companies of all kinds may make this mistake, becoming so busy with operations and cost cutting and other initiatives that they lose track of the customers they may be losing. They lose track of their unmet needs and their frustrations with current offerings. They take them for granted as they focus on their own priorities.

One Fortune 500 company we (IE) met with told us something surprisingly similar - a refreshingly honest admission that numerous companies ought to be making. They admitted that they were complacent about their position and that they lacked initiatives for growth because "We're too busy." The busyness in operations made them strapped for resources in other areas. The result of this short-term focus was that they were unable to develop innovations effectively, and that meant that customers or potential customers were being neglected.

Are you too busy for your customers? Let me know so I can short your stock.

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