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Overconfidence can be a Curse

The mistake of assuming you know more than your customer

Be careful not to get too confident. If you think you know everything the customer is looking for without asking some qualifying questions, you may frustrate your customer and possibly even lose them.

I recently made a poor assumption and I’ll tell you about it:

I was in New Orleans for a trade show, I spent the entire week there and was fortunate to have my wife join me. It was a great experience and we learned a lot from the friendly people of New Orleans; we learned much about the flooding after Katrina and where the best local restaurants were. We walked and rode the cable cars and by mid week we were getting around very well; I had instantly become an expert on the 7 blocks we were exploring in New Orleans.

On Wednesday that week I left the convention center to venture out for lunch; immediately outside there were hundreds of trade show attendees strolling the streets and taking advantage of the nearby food stands and restaurants.

A man and woman approached me (obviously they recognized my confidence and street prowess) and the gentleman asked in broken English “Can you direct us to the nearest subway?”

It was then that I felt pride in explaining (in detail) that since New Orleans is below sea level they have no subways, but rather cable cars. I then offered to walk them to the nearest cable car stop.

The gentleman was confused, frustrated and borderline angry; he looked at me and said “We have to take a cable care to get a sandwich?!” Embarrassed I then showed them to the Subway restaurant that was around the corner.

I assumed I knew what they were looking for and instead should have asked more questions before offering a solution. I might have saved them some frustration plus a lengthy and possibly inaccurate description of the New Orleans public transportation system.

We all know what happens when we assume…..

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