What Sacrifices Will Your Customers Make For Each Other?

A popular but life-threatened professor needed a kidney and found many volunteer donors among his students.

He received no fewer than 25 offers, setting a record at the facility that coordinates such matters, and happily, his surgery was a success.

Students are the customers of colleges and universities.

Their willingness to put their lives at risk for their professor takes the idea of customer satisfaction to a much higher level. The question emerges:

“What are your customers willing to do for YOU?”

Likewise, there is yet another test of customer satisfaction and loyalty that emerges from how your customers behave. Specifically, to what extent do they cooperate with and make sacrifices for each other?

I heard a story at a recent conference told by an MBA graduate from a prestigious Ivy League university. The ultra-competitive program he was in had a policy that ranked all students semester by semester.

Those in the highest quartile didn’t have to take the final exam in their last year, as I understand it. They were permitted to flunk it and they’d still achieve their MBA degree.

However, if those in the lowest quartile going into the final failed, they were denied their degrees, making their entire investment go down the drain, along with their pride and reputations.

The gentleman that told me this shared what one of his professors said at the final.

If any student in the first quartile would “volunteer” to fail his or her exam, this would enable the teacher to pass one peer that would otherwise be booted out.

This was based on “curve” grading scheme that allows only a certain number of A’s, B’s, and so forth.

“Any volunteers?” the professor asked.

Apparently, as many as twenty or more students could have marched forth, but only two trekked to the head of the class, blue books in hand: the gent that regaled me with this tale, and one other.

The storyteller disclosed that he hated his time in that MBA program, having found the place alienating, while his undergraduate studies were much more satisfying. But he felt a tie with his peers that the brutish pressure of the place couldn’t quash.

The fact that so few came forth, where it would have cost them nothing yet have spared so many such disgrace, speaks very poorly for the institution.

In our current era of robust social networking, establishing peer-to-peer conversations that are unprecedented, will customers strive to do more for each other, despite institutional disincentives to the contrary?

We’ll see.

“User groups” have become powerful networks in technology situations, and open-sourcing is changing the way electronic applications are being developed and distributed.

Companies that are cutting back on customer services in this severe economic environment, oddly under the banner of CRM–Customer Relationship Management–may be supplanted and upended by customers that are willing to sacrifice for each other.

They came together because of you, but they might choose to stay together without you.

It’s like threads in online conversations that veer off into topics the original poster could never could have anticipated.

Thank you for bringing us together. But we don’t need you anymore.

This apparent split in customer satisfaction already happens in academia, where on instructor evaluations students assign higher ratings to “the class” than to “the professor.”

That seems a logical impossibility, but it happens far too often to be a mistake.