Do you know this slogan for Sure® anti-perspirant? It’s a great one, because it has stood the test of time (since the 1980’s), it’s easy to remember, but most of all, because it shows that the folks who make Sure® tapped into what was really important to their customers, and acted on it. Many managers believe that if they can find just one more piece of information, they can be sure about the decisions they’re making. But this just isn’t so. There will never be perfect certainty. Data can never be a substitute for making a true, deep connection with your customers. Two of our favourite sources had something to say on the subject, and we really can’t sum it up any better. Last week, Seth Godin rightly pointed out that a mass of data points can’t possibly trump an emotional connection. Then on Monday, the Globe and Mail’s Harvey Schachter highlighted some great thoughts from Sheelagh Whittaker, former head of EDS Canada, including this great quote: “I am often decisive; I am seldom certain.”
At the heart of this is a real concern; that there are managers who are afraid to act because they are waiting for absolute assurance, before deciding how to connect with their customers. It isn’t usually a great idea to act without any information. But it’s equally dangerous to sit on our hands, hoping for a statistically-significant sign as to what we should do. One thing we’re sure of, is that listening to your customer without taking action, won’t get you anywhere. But giving them a forum to tell you what they want, and using their advice to help you move forward? We’ll raise our hand to that one. For sure.
Keep on connecting,
Megann and Steve