In my postgraduate business class, I caught an epiphany about business; that the heart of every business is not necessarily to have capital, not even technology. I have seen the verity of this in my very short life of entrepreneurship; where there were times I had everything in place, yet still failed.
Having all the resources you need may give you an edge; however that will not guarantee success. I consider that the main pillar of success in business is to be competent in the art of the customer. Any business that is not able to muster the customer is certainly on its way to extinction.
Remember your customers
CONGRATULATIONS, you have a great product! But have you stopped to consider, “Is this what my customers need?” No product or service will be successful if nobody has need for it. The business of every business is to discern what their customers need and offer solutions that adequately address those needs.
To succeed in understanding the needs of your customers, you must put in place a system for harvesting customer data; check their social media activity, favorite TV shows, future aspirations, and more. Generally, be curious about what your customers are interested in.
Respect your customers
UNDERSTANDING your customers is one thing; respecting them is something else. Respect for the customer must not be superficial; it must be integrated into the culture of the business. Respect them when they are present and when they are absent. Respect them in your thoughts and in your actions as well. Respect them when you make profit and when you make a loss.
What you do in their absence affects what you do in their presence. What you think about them shows in how you relate to them.
Without a culture of respect, you cannot attract and retain customers. Any business that is not able to attract and retain customers will cease to be a business. Customers are stakeholders whose participation in your business ensures constant revenue. They are the reason for the existence of the business; you disrespect them at your own peril.
Reward your customers
DON’T serve with the mentality that you are doing your customers a favor. It is the other way round; whenever someone patronizes your products or services, remember that they could have gone to another provider. So if anyone needs to show gratitude, the burden is more on you than on the customer.
One way to show gratitude is to reward them. Once when I bought a Bluetooth optical mouse from a retailer, he rewarded me with a mouse pad. He was grateful that I had purchased his mouse. Guess what! When I need to buy a smart watch later, I went to the same retailer because I was certain that he would treat me well.
If you reward customers generously, they are likely to return for repeat or other services. Some will even recommend your services to other people, leading to a growth in your customer base.
WHEN authors produce a book, they must do so with their readers in mind. A hotel must always have the interests of their guests at the center of their thoughts. Again, a software developer cannot ignore the need to ensure users of the software find it user-friendly. Everything a business does – whether at the backend or frontline – must be done from the perspective of the customer.
You cannot ignore or sacrifice the interest of your customers and think you will win. Customer-centric organizations are more likely to prevail in the market than those who are not.
Terry Mante is an author, Lead Consultant at Terry Mante Exchange (TMX) and Community Lead/CEO of The Accra Hub