What My Customers And My Laundry Have In Common

I finally found a reason why my wife should do all the laundry:  I can no longer distinguish between my wife’s and my daughter’s clothes. 


If it is pink, red, or girly in any way, there’s a high likelihood that I will sort it into the wrong pile. This results in a kind smile from my wife. It’s the same smile she gives to babies and puppies that are cute but helpless. It also results in a head-cocked, eye-rolling, “how-dumb-are-you?” look from my daughter. She’s eight. Going on sixteen.


In my defense, my daughter is taller than nearly every other eight-year-old on the planet. Some of her clothes say “12” or even “14” inside, which I always assumed should somewhat correspond to the age – not the attitude – of the wearer.


My wife is a few years older than eight, and her clothes have a whole different numbering system (another mystery to solve at another time). But, honestly, side by side, it’s sometimes really, really hard to tell them apart. Ok, so my wife doesn’t have a t-shirt that says “I (heart) Justin Bieber”, but she and my daughter do have some matching pajamas that look the same size to me. Gotta read the labels to know which is which. I really wish I understood those numbering systems better.


I am quite lucky. My wife actually does do the majority of the laundry. She actually kind of enjoys it. It’s one of the few old-school gender roles that we honor in our house. She does the laundry. I mow the lawn and kill all the spiders.


So when I do fluff and fold a basket or two, I now have to pay extra attention. Because somewhere along the way, my daughter grew. It was so much easier when she was little. Pink + tiny = daughter’s pile. Now I have to check the label on almost everything, except that Justin Bieber t-shirt.


In other words, things change. People change. Customers change. Their needs shift, grow, and change constantly. When we have a few, distinct customers, it’s relatively easy to tell them apart and provide them customized products or personal service. As our customer base grows, and our customer’s needs change, we have to pay closer attention.


What does that take? Before you run out and buy a new CRM software package or hire a bunch of new salespeople, stop for a minute and just think about your customers (or your staff, or your family, or your community organization). Ask yourself these questions:


1. How have our customers changed since we first met them? 
2. What do they need from us now?
3. Will they have any new needs in the foreseeable future?
4. What are the simplest and most direct ways we can meet these needs?


These questions don’t require a two-day retreat in the woods to figure out. You could come up with some great answers in a sixty minute staff meeting or your personal reflection time.


While this may be the first time you’ve thought about these questions (like this is the first time I’ve thought about my laundry dilemma), it definitely shouldn’t be the last. These are questions that we should be asking ourselves at least once each year, or even each quarter.


I doubt I’ll ever completely escape laundry duty, so I’m going to have to pay even more attention as time goes by. The way my daughter is growing , she will someday be the same size as my wife, maybe as early as next week.

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