The Common Uncommonly

All About Loyalty

Garbage Truck Dreams

My son loooooves garbage trucks.

He’s 2, and he’s all boy.  Anything big and loud is fine by him, and the more flashing lights the better.  But he has a real soft spot for garbage trucks. 

So part of the morning routine around our house is this conversation…

Us: So what did you dream about last night?

Him: Garbage trucks!

Us: Really? Anything else?

Him: Garbage trucks! Pick up the can put it down go boom!  Garbage truck go boom!

Every day the same thing.  It’s an automatic response.  What did you dream about?  Garbage trucks. 

Meanwhile, my day job isn’t much different.  We’re currently in the midst of an annual study that we conduct for a business-to-business client.  Due to the type of respondent (executives at Fortune 500 companies) and the nature of the survey (open-ended, lots of probing and followups, lots of technical jargon), we handle all the data collection in-house.  It’s a busy few weeks of phone calls for most of our leadership team, including me.

Every year we conduct hundreds of these interviews, which our client uses to figure out how to improve its service offerings and keep its customers happy.  And for the most part, when you ask one of these executives what can be done to increase their satisfaction, the first thing out of their mouths is… lower prices.

Like my son and his garbage trucks, it’s an automatic response.  What can we do better?  Lower your prices.

Of course, our job is to get beyond that, to uncover the other issues that really matter in these complex business relationships.  Once you get beyond the kneejerk “lower prices” answer, there’s usually a lot more to talk about.  And those are the things that make the relationships tick.  

That’s why this client hires us instead of just throwing a survey up on SurveyMonkey. 

Just a little something to keep in mind the next time you ask your customers how you can improve.  Low prices are rarely the reason for lasting loyalty, and high prices are rarely the impetus to defect.  If you want to find out what really makes your customers tick, you’ll have to dig deeper.

Written by Tom Logue

March 20th, 2012 at 10:57 pm

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