The Expensive Assumption Businesses Make About Their Clients

Suddenly, a scene from an old Tom and Jerry cartoon popped into my head. Tom, having been tricked by Jerry into eating a jar of chillis, is in serious trouble.

 

His face is crimson. Steam billows from his ears and flames pour from his mouth. Suddenly he can’t take it anymore and rushes off to dive into the duck pond to quench the fire.

 

It was all I could think of while I watched my poor 7-year-old daughter desperately trying to salve the burning in her mouth.

 

And I felt so guilty. I really did.

 

‘We’ll go to the new Mexican for lunch!’ I’d cheerily announced an hour earlier.

 

‘It won’t be that spicy,’ I’d said. ‘You’ll love it. It’ll be fun!’

 

But she didn’t, and it wasn’t. In fact, it was an epic parenting fail.

 

Just a couple of mouthfuls into her burrito, we both regretted my choice of restaurant. Everything on the menu was super spicy. My daughter’s food lay untouched. And the guilt had washed away my appetite. What a waste.

 

I’d made some stupid, expensive assumptions about what my daughter would like. That just because I would like it, she would too.

 

Are You Making Expensive Assumptions About Your Clients?

When was the last time you sat down and talked to your clients? I mean, really talked to them. About questions like:

 

  • What’s driving you NUTS right now?
  • What’s keeping you up at night?
  • What would put a big smile on your face?
  • Who do you admire?
  • What’s your ambition?
  • Why do have to work so late?
  • What’s changed in your world recently, for better or worse?

 

If you’re honest, I bet you’d say ‘not recently’. And that’s a problem. Because when we stop talking to our clients we tend to get LAZY. And when we get lazy we make assumptions, things like:

 

  • I love x and so will they
  • They loved our last product so they’ll buy this new one
  • They’ll totally get this brand new technical concept
  • They already hear from us too much
  • They don’t hear from us enough
  • They’re happy
  • They’re completely loyal to us
  • They’re not bothered about x
  • They care about x as much as we do

 

And these assumptions can be VERY expensive. Because all of a sudden we start losing clients to competitors or our services stop selling so well and we just don’t know why.

 

So when you’re next on the phone to your client, ask some deeper questions and really LISTEN to the answers. You might be surprised by the results.