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A Big Customer Mistake – and How We Can Avoid It

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in Remarkable Leadership with Kevin Eikenberry

We as leaders make a big mistake sometimes, and when we fall prey to this mistake it spreads throughout our organization. I’m going to tell you what this mistake is, why it happens and how to fix it, in less than 400 words.

Are you ready?

The Mistake

We frame our customer relationships as solely about individual people, rather than thinking bigger than that.

Why it Happens

This mistake happens because “we all know” we have relationships with people. We are taught to have personal relationships in business and to build products and deliver services to individuals. This isn’t wrong, it just isn’t completely right.

How to Fix It

Like so many things in life, thought must come before action. The first thing we have to fix is the perspective, then we have to adjust our approach. So what is the right perspective?

We need to build relationships with more than just individuals. In your world, this might mean with another department, rather than just a person in one cubicle, or with a company, rather than one person. Whatever it looks like, we must think broader than the person.

Does this mean we shouldn’t try to understand the needs, desires and tendencies of individuals?

Of course not.

The biggest cause of this problem is black and white, either/or thinking.

We live in a Technicolor world. The world is both/and.

You need to work (yes work) super hard to build relationships with specific people, knowing their needs, approaches and tendencies.


That needs to be done in the context of the larger group or organization.


People leave. Players change.

But we still need our Customers.

Sales reps fall prey to this. Leaders fall prey to this.

But you can’t.

Help your team build great relationships across the other department and across the Customer organization. Don’t be a personal favorite, be an organizational solution.

For some of you, the application of this idea will be super obvious, and for others, you might have to think about it for a bit.

Either way, the message is important.

You’re a leader, figure out how this message matters to you and your organization, and then go fix it.

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