There is a fable about an old man, a young boy and a donkey walking into a village. Strolling along with a donkey beside them, a few villagers encourage them to ride the donkey. The little boy climbs on top of the donkey and they continue their walk. A few other onlookers complain that the boy should let the old man ride the donkey. Now the little boy walks alongside the donkey and the old man rides the donkey. Reaching another group of villagers they chide the old man for riding the donkey while the little boy is walking. At this point they decide to carry the donkey. They fetch a big stick and tie the front and back legs of the donkey on each side of the stick. They place the stick on their shoulders and start walking while carrying the donkey. They soon reach a river and the somehow the donkey becomes loose, falls into the river and drowns.

The take away from this story is that in situations where there are multiple conflicting opinions and perspectives, attempting to make everyone happy may be difficult, and in some cases detrimental.

Clearly define your views and have a defensible position that you can service and support. Unless consequential circumstances warrant revisiting your original views, do not change your perspective based on comments from different individuals.

Consider the situation where, due to poor service and support issues, a customer develops an un-favorable opinion about your product, and by association, about your company. To alter this perception, you must first address the specific problems raised by the customer. Then, and only after the customer is satisfied and starts using your product as advertised, can you commence rebuilding a relationship and create a new perspective in their minds. Though challenging, these situations can also lead to long-term loyalty. Anyone can satisfy a customer when things are going well. It takes a strong and committed company to address and resolve problems.

On a final note, all people will not agree with you all of the time and you cannot please all people all of the time. There is a famous saying by Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, in which he stated that, “you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time”. Paraphrasing this quote reminds us of the fact that, “you can satisfy all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot satisfy all the people all the time”.

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Written by

Eli Fathi

Eli has been a technology entrepreneur for the past 30 years and has founded or cofounded a number of companies with a few successful exits. Currently, he is the CEO of Squanto.net a company offering automated fraud detection platform. Eli was the cofounder of Fluidware Corporation, an Internet software company offering Software as a service (SaaS) online applications based on collaborative feedback. He was the co-CEO from inception until the acquisition by SurveyMonkey.

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