Recently my daughter and some friends were doing a scavenger hunt where they followed a series of clues to discover the prize at the end. One of the clues was, “The place where we get bills.” Immediately, my daughter rushed to the computer because that’s where we pay bills. Uh oh. The last thing a business wants is to be irrelevant to the customer.
Your business, your department, and even you become irrelevant to your customers the second they no longer think of you as a resource and solution to their problems. Few think about it that way, but it’s true. Customers are trying to solve a problem they have and need you to do it. Put another way, from the customer’s point of view, your business (department, team, etc.) is useful and relevant only if you can solve their problem.
Banks exist to solve the problems of safely storing and accessing money. Lawnmowers exist to solve the problem of an unkempt lawn. Car dealers exist to solve personal transportation problems. Human Resources departments exist to solve the problems of finding, hiring, managing, and developing people. And so on. Internal or external, it doesn’t matter – your job is to help your customers solve their problems.
When salespeople don’t listen to the customer, they don’t (can’t!) provide solutions. When employees judge their worth to the company by their tenure rather than the problems they are solving, they are missing the point. When HR departments focus on administration they are solving only the lowest level of problems (which are easily outsourced). When your potential customers avoid you or work around you or tolerate you because you are the only option (for now), you become a problem to them.
You become a problem that they will look to someone else to solve.