I well remember the days when we all ran our businesses by a very simple adage: “the customer is always right”. That seemed a panacea for keeping the customer satisfied and seemed quite sufficient for running a successful business. Today, however, everything is more complex and challenging. Our very survival in business requires that more and more delighted customers beat down the doors to our businesses. And, in fact, if we want to thrive rather than just survive, our customers must become raving fans of our businesses. That can happen when we are obsessively customer-centric.
The starting point is to focus on each customer touchpoint in your business. That means assessing (for better or for worse) the experience of your customers whenever they connect with your business, be it visiting your website, on the phone, purchasing on-line, walking in the front door, at the counter, transacting a sale, and the like. The aim is to improve the customer experience at each such touchpoint until customers become surprised and delighted by actually experiencing something quite exceptional in each interaction with your business.
Secondly, your business needs to “be different to make a difference” so that you truly stand out in the eyes of customers as the “go-to” business in your industry or sector. This means that you need to discover and noticeably improve current products or services above and beyond those of your competitors. “Same old” will not cut it in the marketplace.
But, there are three important riders.
First, realise that all power in business has now shifted to customers. They look for the value and benefit that your business will deliver to them and for the opportunities they can get from your business.
Secondly, no matter what your business sells, you are in the people business. You need
Thirdly, the degree to which a business is customer-centric depends on the extent to which it enjoys the trust and confidence of its customers. Consistently keep promises and assurances, and always be entirely reliable and dependable in doing what you say, when you say you will do it.
To turn customers into raving fans, become obsessively customer-centric in all aspects of your business. Then, just stand clear of the doors!
David Sharrock, Managing Principal, Sharrock Pitman Legal