Give the Customer What they Want, Not Just What they Ask For

by Kerry Martin

As part of our marketing strategy for a client, we mail personalized letters with a magazine to a targeted list of industry groups and organizations.  The not-so-fun part is taking those packages to the post office, where in the past they’ve told us that the only way to get the correct postage was to affix an assortment of stamps in varying increments to add up to the total cost.

So today when I came in asking for postage for 37 packages in whatever increments that would add up to $2.50, the woman behind the counter paused, and said, “That’s going to be a lot of stamps.”

“Well, yeah,” I thought.  “It’s the only way they’ve told us how to do it.”

Then she continued with “Would it be easier for you to just use the machine out front to print stamps with the exact amount of postage?”


Where had this helpful tidbit been for the past three years?  The first post office employee had clearly steered us wrong, but what about the others who as recently as June allowed us to go through the same rigmarole because we said we needed an odd amount of stamps for postage?

Where they failed was in asking the question, “What is it that this person actually wants?”  The answer would probably not be:  to spend three times as long peeling off and sticking on a $1.00 stamp, $0.85 stamp and $0.65 stamp to each of their 37 packages.

If you only give your clients/guests/patrons exactly what they ask for, they may never know that the customer is not always right.

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