Every business is a service business. Change your thinking to that to make a difference.

brown wooden table near window

“Customers do not buy goods or services. They buy offerings which render services, which create value…activities render services, things render services.” – Evert Gummesson 1995

What is it that customers actually buy? Is it a “thing” or a “thing you do” for them? Or is it what that “thing” or “thing you do” does to make them successful?

Think of the products and services you buy. Do you buy them simply to own them or because they help you in some way? I would venture to say it is because these goods and activities help you, they serve you.

Even when you do buy something because you want to own it, why do you want to own it? Is it because it makes you feel good to see it sitting in the driveway or in your cupboard or wherever? Is it because it gives you a feeling of status or does it add beauty to your life? No matter your specific answer, it isn’t just to satisfy a want, it adds value to your life, it helps you do something even if only to help you feel good.

Why the barrage of odd questions you ask? Well, it has to do with how what we think influences how we behave.

A lot of people think of their business as providing things that people want or need but they don’t think very deeply about the fact that the things they provide do more than simply satisfy a want or need. The things people want or need are not about the things themselves, they are about what the things do for them. And when something does something for you, it is a service.

Okay, so what? Well, again, how we think can influence what we do. If you only think of what you do as providing objects or activities full of features without considering the myriad facets of value they bring to the table, you will sell commodities and will miss the fact that your business is really doing something more than selling “things,” rather, your business is selling services.

Okay, okay, but how does that change my behavior? If you believe you are selling things, you will focus on getting them into people’s hands just to get them off the shelves for your success but when you see what you are selling as helping people accomplish things, your goal becomes their success. When you are working for your customers’ success, your business transforms into a giving organization rather than a getting one.

Here is an example. My wife and I were searching for a company to repair a roof covering the front stoop of my house. The first company we called sent out a man to take a look at things and get a sense of what we were asking. After looking things over, he said that, while his company could do the job, it was not their specialty and that they would have to figure out something special. He told us he would rather not do that because there were people who did that work on a regular basis who would be better suited to the project. You see, because he knew we wanted more than the roof fixed and wanted something with a certain “look,” he recommended someone else because they would do it better. WOW! I was stunned. He recommended someone else who would provide more than the “job.” He and his company opted to provide real, true value—an excellent job from a more expert vendor who could accomplish my goals—instead of getting the benefit themselves. They gave instead of getting.

To paraphrase what Gummesson so eloquently states above, people don’t buy things they want, they buy things that help them do what they want to do. When you change your thinking from what people want to what they want to do, you change your behavior. You serve others. You make a difference.

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