Why customer relationships depend on culture fit for success – Colin Browne

At a certain point in many business relationships, money can become simply too hard, to exhausting and too demoralizing to earn …

I doubt there is a business out there that hasn’t smashed its head at least once against the hard wall of a lousy customer relationship. And I would bet that if you know the feeling, sooner or later you’ve walked away from the money, knowing that it’s got to be easier to live without it.

In fact, culture fit among customers and suppliers can be just as important as it is among employees within an organization.

I don’t mean that you can’t work with a company that believes through its leaders, its policies and its processes, very different things to you. Not all interactions have to be emotionally deep, and in reality, you probably don’t know the first thing about the overwhelming number of your customers.

But on the occasions that depth is a requirement, if you can’t both get your hearts into it, the work almost certainly isn’t going to be worth doing. The work, such as it is, often turns out not to be about the work at all, but about the process that defines it.

During the 1973 Paris Peace Talks to end the war in Vietnam, months were wasted in discussion about the most appropriate shape of the table, while the carnage over in Asia continued. It’s upsetting, but it’s also rather obvious since the participants couldn’t have been more philosophically opposed. Positioning at a table denotes status and status was more important to many involved than a result.

Of course in Paris, ultimately there wasn’t a better alternative than for those involved to try and hammer out a solution with people they genuinely disliked. In business, it’s rarely the case.

The overriding truth is that there are organisations, and even individuals within organisations that challenge you in ways that are counterproductive and negative. Just as a strong culture can force badly-chosen people out of your organization, so should you allow it to force out bad customers.

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