I just arrived in New York City.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be speaking to a group of over 800 people from the Broadway/Theater industry.

I’ll be talking to them about an industry facing loads of change, demanding customers, increased competition, extreme price elasticity and so much more.

Sound familiar?

I bet that could be your industry.

I mean, who isn’t facing massive change?

Who doesn’t have demanding customers?

Or increased competition? Or someone willing to undercut your pricing?

The fact is, we’re all facing this, and the pressures will only continue to increase.

Consider this for a second…. Only one in every five Broadway shows actually makes money. What would that mean to your business? Imagine if only one in every five of your products or service offerings made any money. It would be tough to survive–let alone thrive.

Broadway has a lot of loyal customers, but many can be incredibly demanding and have very high expectations.

For example, everyone wants to see Hamilton. It’s the most popular show ever–in the history of Broadway. As Hamilton begins its tour around the world, it’s hard for even the most loyal of customers to get tickets.

When I talked to a sampling of customers who enjoy the theatre I sometimes got widely different responses from those passionately preparing and putting on the shows. This can lead to an expectations gap, and it’s up to us to continue to minimize the gap.

Think about your most loyal customers.

How do they feel when can’t get support in a timely fashion?

Or how do they feel when can’t get the turnaround times they expect on quotes, order fulfillment, or deliveries?

Or from another angle, do your customers feel their perception of their loyalty is grander than it is?

Almost every company I work with has told me some variation of the “Some of our customers is just unpleasable.” It’s easy to get caught in the trap of thinking about our customer base adversarially, creating a needless “Us vs. Them” with the very people we’re in business to serve.

Luckily, your customers aren’t some mysterious other. They’re not a black hole of neediness and demands…. They’re people. Sometimes, they’re unreasonable people, true, but every one of your customers is somebody who’s doing their best to get through the day.

When I work with companies to start digging into the roots of customer issues, one of the things that we almost always find is that there hasn’t been nearly enough time invested in the following areas:

Truly understanding how you are making your customers lives better; 


Communicating that understanding to them

Understand what you offer.

Honor that.

Experiment with ways to communicate the value you offer.

And most importantly, reach out to your clients regularly with stories of how you’re helping other clients, and how you think you can help them. Show them that you understand their world.

Help them understand what you can do to make their world better.

Your Challenge For This Week: In one to three sentences, describe to me how you make your client’s lives better without mentioning your products or services.

Pose this same question to many people in your company including customer-facing staff and senior leadership, and see how closely everyone’s responses match up.

For bonus points, ask a random sampling of your customers and see if your vision lines up with theirs.