Should you customize a product or offering to satisfy a client?
Some companies provide exemplary service to their clients. Some are almost an extension of their client. However, being too dependent on and catering to one or a few clients can be a company’s downfall. Companies designing products to meet the needs of a range of customers should not get distracted by one demanding customer.
I know, it’s very hypocritical of a consulting firm that takes a bespoke approach with clients to lecture companies on catering to client needs. But hear me out…
Growing companies need to know how to say “Yes, but…” to their clients. When trying to grow a business or reach new clients, there’s a fine line between meeting a client’s needs and fully customizing your product. As this customized product evolves, additional staff will be needed to support this offshoot of the original product. Eventually, this product and client can take on a life of its own with staffing needs separate from the rest of the products. In addition, because of customization, all centralized functions of your business (support, professional services, engineering, etc.) will need to add staff to accommodate this customized product. Not exactly what you imagined when the customer asked for a few changes, is it?
Evaluate your customer’s request based on your plan for the product growth in the future. Their request (and additional compensation) might fund your already planned product roadmap. Or, it may highlight features or functionality that hadn’t been discussed. But if their customization request is too specific or too difficult/polarizing, don’t be afraid to push back and politely decline. You can work with them on a consulting basis to help them realize their needs with an internal team.
This advice also works when dealing with internal customers. Is there a centralized function that treats some internal clients differently than others? Maybe everyone isn’t following the budgeting process the same way. Or maybe the same culprits are always late submitting payroll or annual reviews. By pushing back on these deviations to the norm, you can free up capacity and ensure internal clients all contribute equally to the end goal.
Does your company have change that needs to be implemented but lacks internal capacity and/or resources? Would your company benefit from a consultation to unlock its full potential? Contact Beck Insights (www.beckinsights.com) and we'll work together to determine the right solution for your business.