Sunday, February 26, 2012

What are your options?


I have not really dealt with many american customers directly. But they are omnipresent. Too big not to know anything about them. Besides I work for an american company so not knowing about american customers is not an option!


Option. That is what stood out for me when I was trying to adopt templates designed for american customers to asian customers. While writing a proposal in the american template you had to provide a lot of options for everything from our methodology to sample size to packages for price. When I took the same approach to my asian customers they found this overwhelming. Some of them also asked me whether I was trying to confuse them.


Why does a standard procedure in america failed in asia for us? The answer was simple. The customers were different. But I could appreciate the difference and more importantly rationalize and predict the outcome only when I developed my theory "How they Eat, How they do business".


Once I was in an intense meeting with my team and we decided to have working lunch in the conference room. Subway sandwiches emerged as the most popular and the most natural choice. But ordering it seating in board room was not as simple as we thought. Because  a subway sandwich is not just a chicken sandwich right! It is a 6 inch, parmesan oregano bread, cheese toasted, with  chicken teriyaki and all veggies except onion but extra black olives and jalapeƱos with southwest chipostle sauce, mayonese and honey mustard sauce with a bit of salt and pepper,  medium sized meal with one chocolate and one oatmeal & raisin cookie with diet coke to go! ... And yes paid by credit card.


One has to choose from 13 different options to buy a sandwich.   But as a customer I really feel I got exactly what I wanted, I had complete control over the process and therefore I feel a lot more satisfied and empowered. I am sure if someone measures customer satisfaction and choice of sandwiches, Subway would easily top the chart! The whole ordering system  is designed to empower the customer by making him choose from a lot of options!


Inherently, customers are same, whether they are buying a sandwich or a complex technical solution. If you are trying to win them in the United States of America don't forget to ask yourself "what are your options?"

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