When clients ask me to help them with customer service issues, they are often surprised (and a little annoyed) when I ask them a question about what business are they really in. Now I’m not trying to be difficult, I’m just trying to help them identify—at an emotional level—the specific need they are satisfying with their product or service.
Because once you identify what business you are really in, you will automatically know the core promise your brand is making to your customers.
You’d think this little question would be easy to answer, but I can tell you from experience—it’s not. Here’s how the conversation typically goes:
Me: “What business are you really in?
Client: “What business am I really in?! I’m in (fill in the blank.)”
Me: “No, that’s what you do. I’m asking about the emotionally compelling need you satisfy. What emotional comfort do you provide for your clients?”
There are usually some awkward moments of silence. Finally, I’ll typically step in with some examples, such as:
- Aren’t insurance companies really in the “peace of mind” business?
- Isn’t Disney really in the “happiness” business?
- And what about fast food chains? Sure, they serve food, but aren’t they really in the “consistency” business? Think about it. No matter where you are on the planet, you know that your McDonald’s Big Mac, Burger King Whopper, Starbucks Caramel Macchiato, or KFC Extra Crispy Chicken are going to taste exactly the same as they do in your town. Isn’t that the real need that fast food establishments satisfy?
Now it’s your turn
So—what business are you really in? Take a minute to consider the emotional need you satisfy for your customers. Look beyond the actual product or service you are providing—look at the big picture. Think about the emotional need your product or service satisfies. That’s where your brand promise lives.
When organizations get off track, it’s usually because they lose sight of the bigger picture. Don’t let the day-to-day tactical requirements obscure the real business you are in. Think bigger—and talk to your teammates about it, too. Together I’ll bet you’ll find some insight—and you’ll have a better handle on the core promise you are making to your customers every day.
About the author:
Ann Phillips is a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies. You can read Ann’s posts as a part of our customer service series that appears twice montly.