Customers are really everything

I first saw this as an acronym in a bank. They were trying to show me that they cared by telling me that customers were really everything and it is true.

I have heard about the 37Signals – don’t listen to customers mantra before and it has always puzzled me. How can a company not listen to their customers? James Governor has been tweeting like a canary this week , ok so it was one tweet, about 37Signals’ highrise. So I thought I would check the horses mouth and lo and behold I found this:

We’ve made some significant, oft-requested improvements to the Basecamp permissions system.

So it sounds like even 37Signals are responding to customers. it’s a good thing because aren’t customers the guys who pay the bills?

At the moment I am snowed under with work that has to get done before Christmas. Let alone all the fun things I would like to be doing, exploring and learning. I have a pile of requests from customers of things to tweak, adjust and correct. Am I feeling overwhelmed? Perhaps. Maybe just a little, if I thought about it too much. I got a whole bunch more customer requests last night.

But here is the alternative – working just as hard with no one wanting (or paying for) your services or products.

I remember Jeff Word in the SAP Demo Jam at Tech Ed in Vegas 2006 getting excited because most of the demo’s were coming from customers. (I watched the video, I wasn’t there)

The bottom line is that customers pay the bills. If my businesses have no customers I have no business. So I am going to be listening to them for sure.

Let me tell you about one experience I have had in the last couple of weeks: We used Snapfish for Christmas presents last year and were very impressed with the quality and the service we received. In fact it is the easiest way I know to get a grandparent to cry.

For the uninitiated, Snapfish create products based on your photos and turn them into books, calendars etc. For example we, ok my wife, made a calendar for my Dad last year and used 12 of the best shot from the year of the kids and then on all the birthdays used a small shot of the person in question. He loved it, raved about it. Showed it to all his friends. Anyway enough back story.

This year we reordered some books and when they arrived the has some serious printing errors. Pages not cut properly, backgrounds not aligned properly and it was a let down. The customer service was let me say fantastic. They immediately recognised there was an issue at their end and reprinted the books. They arrived this week and while some of the issues were fixed there were still some serious problems with the items. I called back again and they were more than happy to listen, apologised profusely and promised to make it right. Now if they really get it right this time I will be a happy customer. I would have been just as happy had it been delivered right the first time but because I was listed to I am just as happy.

Customers ARE really everything.

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2 Responses to “Customers are really everything”


  1. 1 Johan van Zijl Friday, 14 December 2007 at 12:43

    Hi Nigel

    I agree that customers are everything, however that does not always make them right. I think that by saying that 37 signals does not listen to their customers is not a fair reflection of how they operate.

    The way I see it, they put a lot of effort into design, what customers really need and what they can feasibly deliver. This means that sometimes they refuse requests from customers.

    See the following 2 links from their site:
    http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch05_Forget_Feature_Requests.php
    http://gettingreal.37signals.com/ch14_Tough_Love.php

    Cheers, Johan

  2. 2 nigeljames Friday, 14 December 2007 at 16:48

    Hi Johan,
    Thanks for the comments and the links. I agree it is not a case of always saying yes and always saying no but taking each request on a case by case basis. As it says in ‘Forget feature requests’ :
    [the requests] that are important will keep bubbling up anyway’

    Nigel


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