Friday, June 25, 2004

Details that matter

This Slashdot post is fascinating.

This is a dentist that knows he has clients and not customers.

I had a dentist after the accident that was just awful, but it was the only one in town for my insurance. It was a dental factory. JiffyLube has better customer interaction. I will never go back there. It took them three tries to fit a crown even with the tech right there. Now I have had good dentists but they seem very rare if you stick with the insurance companies. Which makes sense the insurance companies want lowest cost providers but when it comes to my teeth I want something better.

I have learned though many hard experiences that the lowest bidder is often not the best choice. The lowest bidder seems to cut into the muscle of the product or service to be bought, making it far less useful to me. It is like their business model if we can get just one sale it is enough and since no one will bother coming back to us afterward we will try to get the most out of this customer the one time we have them in our clutches.

This is obviously wrong. Your relationship with a dentist is very intimate as it happens inside your body and happens regularly. You really want to do that stuff with someone you are comfortable with. This is not a customer relationship based on commodity pricing. This is a client relationship that is based more on trust then anything else.

I guess that may be part of one of the problems I see in engineering. Engineers have allowed themselves to be commoditized. Engineers are treated as migrant brains, "Oh, you've finally finish the project. Well, it is exactly what we asked for but not what we wanted. Goodbye."

I think we have become too specialized. We need to find the ways of making the projects what the clients need and want and help us value ourselves.

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