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Insights from Remarkable Business People (Collections) by FT Press Delivers

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What’s the Problem with Customers?

Fred Wiersema

It was a rotting old fence that drove home the power of deeply analyzing customer problems. The fence was around the swimming pool at my home in suburban Boston. It’s a 200-year-old colonial house, and my wife and I thought that a traditional white picket fence would be perfect to replace the old one. I followed the standard practice of inviting three contractors to size up the job and bid on it.

The first two made their measurements, discussed the materials, calculated, and gave me their prices—no more than $100 apart. But the third contractor surprised me.

“May I ask you a question?” he wanted ...

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