Four Myths About Customers

If you say it long enough, people begin to believe it. An idea or a belief starts and gets repeated and repeated, and before long, it becomes a “fact”, and then becomes a myth.

A myth is a belief or story that is imaginary or fictitious. In our current political climate, many politicians claim certain things as truth even though they are untrue, and after time, more and more people begin to believe the claims. Once a myth is born, it’s hard to un-spread.

I see it every day at the Chamber. Many business owners come to believe certain things about customers because they have been told certain myths since they started their businesses.

Here are four myths that need to be corrected:

  • The customer is always right. You see these types of signs in a lot of businesses: “The customer is always right.” Sounds good, and the attitude does help to bring about a customer focus for a business, but it is a myth. A business is not going to sell a product or a service at a reduced price, below cost and overhead, just because a customer demands it. A business should never do something unethical or illegal, just because a customer demands it. There are times when the customer is not right.
  • Customers buy the lowest price items. If that myth were true, no “high-end” products would sell. Businesses that sell and cater to high-end customers would not exist. The new Lexus dealership or the Bert Ogden Cadillac or the Maserati dealerships would not exist. The myth that people are always looking for the lowest price is not true. The Yeti cooler story is a prime example. Brothers Ryan and Roy Seiders were told, when they started the company, no one is going to buy a $400 cooler.
  • Big box retailers don’t offer customer service. Many small businesses think having a friendly and courteous smile in every aisle is customer service. As a customer, we like being greeted, but customer service includes other things like “good” return policies and staff that is easily available, knowledgeable, and readily answer questions. The right product mix and pricing, store location, a clean store, and easy check out, are just a few things that go into good customer service.
  • Everyone is my customer. When a business makes a statement, “everyone is my customer,” they don’t know who their real customers are or to whom they are marketing their product or service. Every business has three or maybe four key customer segments, and beyond those segments, they are wasting time and effort.

When we work with business startups, we want them to identify and pursue two key customer segments, and that’s it. It is hard enough to execute on two customer segments, let alone the whole universe of customers.

A customer focus is essential to business success, but don’t let the myths about customers get you sidetracked. Having a deep understanding of your customer is the cornerstone of success for any size business. Just don’t get caught up in the myths.

See you in McAllen!