Friday, April 07, 2006

Sometimes Giving the Customer What They Want Isn't Such a Great Idea

As a businessperson, I've always been trained to "find out what the customer wants and give it to them." This is a simple, but difficult process, but it is definitely good business.

However, it seems like this advice that I've held to so steadfastly is actually not always true.

Look at the pharmaceutical crisis in North America today.

Patients go to a doctor with a medical problem, let's say obesity. "Doctor, I'm too fat." Okay, so the doctor tells the patient, "To lose weight, you need to eat less and exercise more." Simple (but difficult --- again!).

So the patient says, "Hey doc, can't you just give me a pill?" And, in today's world, the doctor says "Sure, here's the prescription for Redux or Acomplia."

That's exactly the way business is supposed to work. But in this case, it's a bad thing for the patient. He got what he wanted, but he also got a rafter full of side effects that wouldn't be a factor if he had just taken the first piece of advice "Eat less, exercise more."

So, if the doctor was acting in the best interests of the patient, he would say "No, I'm not going to give you the pill. You have to eat less, exercise more, and I'm going to help you. Let's create a plan."

Can good business be bad medicine? In this case, I think it's true.

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