This little cliche has always been a problem for me.

I’m a customer and service oriented guy.  The customer should be at the center of your strategy.  Without customers you don’t have a business and certainly won’t enjoy growth.

But it still bugs me.

As so other similar cliches like, “The customer is always right.”

Customers know what they want, but regularly don’t know what they need.  And quite often they are wrong about both.

If the customer always comes first, where does your company come?  Last?

Granted, customers have a lot of leverage and are willing to use it, especially in the B2B world.  But if you always jump when the customer calls, putting the development of your company on the backburner(meaning putting on hold the development of the systems and methods that make you valuable to the customer), you will become a slave to the customer.  You are being leveraged.  This is never healthy.

Sometimes you have to give in and jump for the customer.  That’s okay.  But if it becomes a habit, maybe you are grabbing the dollars at the expense of your organization.

When you are jumping for the customer, you are working “in” the business, not “on” the business.

You need to have discipline about spending time “on” the business.  And that time should be sacred, non-cancel-able. Spend it building your customer centric brand promise and all the mechanisms that will insure you have a compelling offer.  This is #1.  And it comes before the customer.

And explain to customers, you need that time, to be able to serve them well and to improve upon it.

You’ll be surprised when you find that they’ll understand.  If they don’t, they probably aren’t the right customer for you.