Having customer focus means giving people the attention they deserve. In a past blog, I mentioned my love for philosophy. Undoubtedly, one of the concepts I’ve latched onto is that of via media: the middle way. Aristotle, the ancient Greek thinker, emphasized this concept in the realm of ethics. He theorized that the Good remains in the middle, avoiding extremes of excess and deficiency.
Take courage, for example – an excess of the virtue would constitute recklessness and a deficiency cowardice. The same concept applies equally to other virtues. And, while it may not serve as a comprehensive framework for ethics, it’s worthy of consideration nonetheless.
Modern business is one of many fields boasting opportunity for the application of this rule. And of course, the 21st century, corporate environment surely isn’t what Aristotle conceptualized in the 300s BC. But several present-day components of business could greatly benefit from an understanding of the via media. In particular, corporate authority, which includes the ability to speak meaningfully about a product, service, or occupational sphere.
Focus on the Customer
If corporate authority is the ideal, the golden mean, then too much of it would be arrogance or condescension. But too little would constitute ineptitude. For this post, I’d like to focus on the first. Because often enough, businesses go so far in their attempt to appear authoritative that they instead alienate their customers. Sadly, many companies do so unwittingly.
I can use my own experience as an example. Multiple times within the past year, my wife and I have had to take our vehicles to various mechanics. Now, I can turn a wrench and change a tire or battery when needed. But if anything is actually wrong, I’m at a complete loss. And because of this, I can become somewhat confused and even intimidated by someone who is well-versed in the specifics. Especially when they start asking me questions laced with technical jargon. So, when several of the mechanics simply assumed that I had the same level of knowledge, they spoke over my head.
However, the mechanics who will undoubtedly retain my business are those who took the time to explain the details patiently. They didn’t automatically assume that I was familiar with the language. And despite my unfamiliarity with the specifics, they treated me with dignity and respect. Of course, this concept can transfer to any field – healthcare, education, manufacturing, you name it.
Unfortunately, there are also times when businesses can cause customers to feel stupid by assuming they don’t know anything about the product or service. I can also attest to this from personal experience. Several months ago, the support team at VTR had to decide whether or not to stay with a current third-party provider or switch to another, and thus, we set up a meeting with several of our customer care representatives at the company.
The meeting, which was our final attempt to resolve a variety of issues, actually served as further confirmation that our current provider didn’t have our best interest in mind. Because, when we brought up a potential critique of their service and questioned methods to alleviate the problems, they treated us condescendingly. In fact, a representative attempted to explain the basic nature of a subscription plan – something we were already well-aware of since we’d been with the company for a decade. The patronizing response we received was what ultimately led us to the decision to switch providers.
So, again we find the concept of the via media because, in business, one must not assume their customers have an overabundance of technical knowledge, but they must also not assume the customer is completely ignorant of more basic concepts. The line between these two extremes is, admittedly, difficult to find. In terms of strategy for organizations, there are two methods that businesses can employ to provide good customer service at either end of the spectrum.
- Ensure they have the necessary amount of information needed to make an informed, beneficial decision.
- Avoid overly-technical, industry-specific jargon that might go over the heads of others less versed in the products.
Strategize Around Customer Focus
Even if these customer focus tips don’t apply in all situations, the basic premise is the same. All customers, regardless of their lack or excess of knowledge, deserve respect. This should be a part of strategy for every organization. If you want to know more about operating with customer focus, consider taking our courses on business strategy or marketing.
Article written by Braden Norwood
Last updated March 14, 2023