Listening to Customers – Not Always The Right Thing To Do

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The marketing people will all tell you the same thing. Listen to your customers. And when you’re done with that, listen some more. And never stop listening. They are the best source of information about how well or badly your business is doing. After all they are your friends and of course it’s always your best friends that will give it to you straight.

Today though I want to talk about the occasions – admittedly rare – when listening to your customers is just, well…plain wrong! The times when you need to grasp every ounce of Dutch courage you can muster and tell that important client to get knotted. I have literally just this week come through one such experience and I think there are some valuable lessons to be learned for everyone here. So next time a customer rings you up and invites you to a nice leisurely day at the cricket then rings you back and says actually, do you fancy going to the Euro 2012 final in Kiev instead, think hard before answering!

Lesson 1 – Just because you have a ticket, don’t assume that flights and hotels will be cheap and easy to come by.
In fact assume that you’ll need to re-mortgage the house to get a late standby seat to fly in completely the wrong direction and make an impossibly tight connection at a huge airport at which you will be dropped the wrong end. As for hotels, assume that the entire country will be fully booked and that you will end up paying the standard price for asuite at the Ritz to stay in what looks like a run-down Travelodge.

Lesson 2 – Just because it looks like a Travelodge, doesn’t mean that it will be either clean, centrally located or indeed even in the correct city.
Remember to read the Tripadviser review BEFORE you go. Comments like “Terrible, if this is a 3 star hotel then I’m a Ukrainian” or “You will survive the night but that’s about the best thing you can say” or “Soviet-era functional” suggest that the old adage “You get what you pay for” may not in fact be true after all!

Lesson 3 – Wandering around the city trying to get a replacement hotel on the day of the biggest sporting event in the nation’s history is not helpful in price negotiations.
If you can’t find a room rate card in the hotel, it is because they have torn it up for the night and downloaded one from the website of the Burj al-Arab in Dubai, changed the logo, doubled the prices and Google translated the Arabic into Russian!

Lesson 4 – Backing the underdog by buying an Italian football shirt, having your face painted with the Italian flag and eating pizza will not make the gorgeous local women think you drive a Ferrari, own a villa on Lake Como and have the prowess of a Roman god.
No explanation required here.

Lesson 5 – Just because Coca Cola have arranged a party for all their guests in your hotel doesn’t mean either that you are automatically entitled to entry or that they will be serving anything other than Coca Cola when you discover that you are.
That should all go without saying but after 22 sleepless hours, two flights, wandering the streets of Kiev homeless, having your ear drums burst by a firework display straight from Chernobyl and perhaps one too many of the local brew, I can assure you that it doesn’t!

Lesson 6 – The most important of all.
Never miss an opportunity to have such an amazing and incredible experience. Loved every second of it. So perhaps this whole blog is nonsense after all. The customer is always right!