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No matter how much you want to please your customers, you will not please every one. That’s not news to anyone out there (I hope). But, pleasing customers is especially difficult when there is no dialogue.
Again, not a breathtaking revelation. It’s just that when I was recently given a rare opportunity by a customer, I wondered, among many things:
- Why is it that only dissatisfied customers get in touch?
- Why are their expectations often far outside the norm?
- What about the “silent majority”? Why don’t they dialogue with us?
This particular customer — who I’ll call “Hans” (not his/her real name) — did not like that our policies and procedures manual did not contain a complete, up-to-date listing of every national law affecting or related to the subject matter of the manual. He asked when our product had last been updated. I replied that it was less than two years ago.
To Hans, this was unacceptable. For what he paid, he should have received much more than he got, in his estimation. If new laws were enacted in the last year and a half or so that could impact the way he does business, he needs to know about this.
While I agree in principle with his last statement, I pointed out several things working against us in that regard. We have an international audience; the number of laws on any given subject must be in the thousands, if not millions, and countries are adding new laws all the time.
(NOTE: This is one reason why we feel international standards — like ISO 9001 — are critically important. Every market you can think of (but especially food and health care) is heavily regulated in most countries. ISO standards do a very good job of harmonizing laws around the world: that is, if a company complies with international standards like ISO 9001, it will very likely comply with relevant regulations, too.)
It is not possible for us to keep up with all the regulatory changes that go on around the world, so we defer to established authority. And, we’re continually getting better with regard to international coverage. For instance, in the Finance Policies and Procedures manual, we don’t just mention GAAP and leave it at that. We also include reference to IFSB and explain its importance. Rather than restate the applicable rules, regulations, guidelines, etc., we include links to some web sites. (I invite you to check out a few legislative web sites. If we tried to be all-inclusive, we might never get a product to market and if we did…imagine the shipping charges!)
We can’t possibly include everything on every subject covered in our manuals. In fact, we caution purchasers in our manuals against assuming that our P&P manuals have everything they could possibly need. That, and we caution them to have qualified legal counsel check their work prior to implementing and distributing it.
Finally, I told Hans we design our products to provide the greatest good for the greatest number. It might be prohibitively expensive for many of our customers if we were to tailor the P&P manuals to their unique circumstances. We can do that — and have done it — for companies on a for-hire basis. Still, many companies, I suspect, purchase our products because they are a low-cost alternative and provide a solid framework for their unique circumstances and documentation requirements. I closed by apologizing to Hans that our product could not meet all of his needs.
Now, it’s your turn. What do you expect of our products? Surely, there’s something you feel like we could be doing better…but what?