A leader leads. They do this partly by legislating standards without being rude, crude, or unattractive. The leader formulates a series of realistic expectations that they hold themselves up to as well as other members of the team. This includes the hours when people work, what they do when they work, skills they must possess, and when they take vacation. They take the fear, uncertainty, and doubt out of the workplace. They let workers know what is expected of them, what their job is, where they fit in, how they are doing, and how they are being paid as well as how to get ahead. But that’s not all. Legislating and enforcing standards goes beyond workers. It includes customers as well.
No business in the world can always do what the customer wants anymore than you can always do what your teenager wants you to do. All businesses, as well as parents, must deal with what is needed; not what is wanted.
Choosing to Change
Customers need for you to satisfy their needs with as little waste as possible. Because of that, we innovate. However, innovation isn’t always what the customer wants at the time it happens. But since it deals with what they need, successful innovation looks brilliant in hindsight.
For instance, at one time, many wanted someone to pump their gas, but they needed gasoline available at convenient hours and at a competitive price (except in states with legislated inefficiencies, such as New Jersey). Therefore, today there are many more places for you to fill up 24/7 than ever before, and the price is lower.
Yes, I know the price on gasoline has gone up, but it hasn’t gone up as much as it would have had we not eliminated costs through the self-service innovation. Now, just how was self-service implemented? Customers were offered a choice between a higher degree of service at limited times from the neighborhood station and lower prices/greater convenience, typically at the new convenience stores. Over time, consumers chose the lower price/greater convenience.
When was the last time a doctor paid you a house call? That was more convenient for sick folks, but was not what patients needed. Patients needed doctors to centralize in order to conserve their time so more patients could be treated. Had they not done that, seeing a doctor today would be far less convenient, for getting an appointment would take much longer. How did they accomplish the change? Doctors legislated that patients should visit them if they wanted to be seen right away. House calls were available, but took longer. Overall, consumers chose the quicker office visits.
Wants and needs. Customers always choose fulfilling their needs over their wants in the long run. What does this have to do with legislation? If you want gas, then pump it yourself. If you need to see the doctor, come to the office.
What does this have to do with printing? Most still cheerfully stick to the fiction that they give such great customer service, the customer will never leave. We dismiss the VistaPrints of the world, much like the neighborhood gas station owner dismissed the threat from convenience stores. And we, too, will go by the wayside unless we deal with what customers need, not what they want.
Customers need a price and we want to give them a perfect price, so we estimate it by putting it in a stack and getting back to them later. It has been measured, in my experience, that the closing rate drops dramatically when we wait overnight to return a price to the customer. One company measured that their quotes were converted 75% of the time when the price was returned the same day; but dropped to 25% of the time when the price was returned the next day. After that, the fall off is even steeper. So the customer wants a low price, but really needs to have the price right now.