OK, I gave you fair warning. I am going to rant. If it’s directed at you, consider it some version of tough love and take it in the helpful spirit in which it is meant. If it isn’t flying your way, don’t laugh at your colleagues that need the enlightening (could be you next time!). Here goes…
I had breakfast today with a friend of mine who is a strategic account manager for a large technology firm. He was complaining to me about one of his large accounts and how demanding they were. It seems that they were unhappy because the account team was not collaborating with them to bring new solutions to their current needs.
“The reason I have been successful as a strategic account manager is that I know my customers. I know what they need better than they know themselves. I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t know everything there was to know about them.” (Look out, pal…here it comes and it is definitely directed your way!)
REALLY?? Could you possibly be more self-absorbed? Or, as they say today, “Get over yourself!” No matter how much we know about our customers—and most of us know a lot—everything we know about them is still through our eyes, our perspective, not theirs. We have to fully understand our customers, from their perspective, to be able to help them succeed.
After breakfast, my friend did admit that this issue was provided to him 2 months ago in a report from their customer loyalty research. He just chose to ignore it because it wasn't necessarily consistent with his views. Well, there you have it.
Times are tough. All companies are looking for ways to paddle through the muddy economy. Put your ego aside and realize that you really don’t know everything there is to know about your customers. Use the customer insights available from your customer loyalty programs. Don't ignore any available information. Listen to your customers, understand their perspectives and help them succeed. Anything less is simply not good enough, especially now.