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When I say “pizza” what words come to mind? What images come to mind? What tastes come to mind? What restaurants come to mind? What delivery service comes to mind? What toppings come to mind?

Pretty interesting questions. And you have immediate answers.

In fact, you may be reaching for the phone right now.

Pizza is universally loved unless you get a pizza and you don’t like the toppings or, worse, it has an anchovy on it.

Pizza offers choices that match your craving or desire. AKA: Pizza offers exactly what you hunger for. You get to choose how you want your pizza to be prepared. Everyone does. Can you imagine it any other way? If you call a pizza place and they say, “We only have sausage,” you will hang up and call someone else.

Not only do pizza places give you exactly what you want, they’ll even deliver it to your door in less than an hour.

When you order a pizza from Domino’s Pizza online, you can actually track it being made and being put into the oven. And you’ll know when the delivery person is on his or her way to your door. It’s worth the price of the pizza just to see the technology.

How is the pizza philosophy working in your business?

Are your products and people ready to serve exactly the way your customer wants?

What kind of pizza do you sell?

How fast do you deliver?

How flexible are your offerings?

What are your hours of operation?

How e-commerce friendly are you?

Do you give the customer the toppings they want?

How easy is it to do business with you?

Are you bogusly “serving me better” from among nine options?

Are customers raving about the quality of your pizza?

Would you rather place a special order at Burger King or McDonald’s?

Burger King made a living off of McDonald’s customers with the slogan, “Have it your way!” Thirty years later, McDonalds still doesn’t get it – but all of their competitors do.

Give me what I want. I want it my way.

Back to your business. Do you give your customers what they want? Do you even know what they want? I doubt it.

If businesses gave customers what they really want, there would be more market demand for their product or services.

For example: Why aren’t all banks open on Saturday and Sunday? Why don’t call centers move back to America? Why doesn’t everyone answer their phone with “hello?” Why do many restaurants not take reservations? Why do companies hire rude people? Why do hotels only serve one brand of soft drink?

And while I’m asking all these questions, and you’re nodding your head in approval, what are your customers wanting? Needing? Hoping for? And how are you delivering those needs, wants, and hopes?

I wonder if you’ve ever had a meeting that included customers, where you asked them “what’s missing?” or what ingredients they want that you don’t have or don’t offer.

Beware of a quality compromise.

When I order a pizza, I order mushrooms on it. I always ask if they’re fresh or out of a can. If they say, “Out of a can,” I thank them, and hang up.

I used to eat at a Chinese restaurant in Charlotte. They had the best pineapple fried rice on the planet. Last time I was there, it tasted terrible. Canned pineapple was substituted for fresh pineapple. “Fresh pineapple costs too much,” was the manager’s snappy reply. That’s the last time I was there. The very last time.

I left the manager my business card and told him when they go back to fresh pineapple, please call me and I’ll return. So far he hasn’t called. That was about a year ago. Ate there once a month or so. Average dinner bill was $60 plus tip. That’s a total of $1,440 in lost revenue. That buys a lot of pineapple. And a lot of loyalty. And a lot of word-of-mouth advertising.

Never ceases to amaze me what business people will do to save a nickel that ends up costing them thousands. How many nickels are you saving? And what is the cost?

In these times many businesses are cutting costs. Make sure you don’t cut service offerings, and products your customers crave. Yes, dollars are important – but keep in mind that those dollars come from customers, not CEOs or purchasing agents.

If you want more on what customers really want, go to www.gitomer.com and enter the words “customer wants” in the GitBit box.

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Jeffrey Gitomer, author of The Sales Bible and Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless, is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service; 704-333-1112 or salesman@gitomer.com.