Being a small business owner is like nothing I have ever experienced before. You do not go to work and do just one thing.
You have to choose between a million different options to help your business succeed. Making a mistake on any detail, especially expensive details can mean the life or death of a struggling business.
Even if a multi-million dollar business has the wrong business strategy, they will fail. It is easy as a businessperson to get caught up in the details of your product, how your product is better than your competitors, and all of the value you give to clients from your product.
However, all of those statements have one thing in common – you. Successful companies must always put their customer first.
Now many companies have taken this to mean that they will just say how important their customers are. If this is what you consider a customer centered environment than you will fail miserably.
An Example of a Business That Is ‘Customer Centered’
Let us say you had an amusement park and all of the rides where gray and lacked any design. The snack carts served liver, and the prizes were tax trial software CD’s.
Let us say the CEO walked in one day and told everyone that they needed to be more kid friendly.
The staff wore bigger smiles, and greeted every child. At every morning meeting, they would mention how children where the center of everything they do. Supervisors would watch employees, and scold them if they did not do everything in a kid centric way.
After a few months of doing, business did not increase and the workers got a little tired of always putting children first, and morale decreased.
Putting customers first is about changing processes to give customers what they want. It is not just telling your employees to think about the customers more.
Let us say the same company invested in more colorful rides, traded liver for ice cream, and gave stuffed animals as prizes instead of tax software CD. These are the things the clients wanted. These changes naturally put the workers in an atmosphere that is kid friendly.
Even these customer centered decisions can be made in the wrong way. When choosing stuffed animals, the amusement park needs to understand what their customers want in an amusement park prize.
Stuffed animals can cost $1 or $50. If the amusement park bought $50 stuffed animals and charged $10 to play, the amusement park has misunderstood their customers again.
They forgot to realize that most stuffed animals won at amusement parks, are won for the fun of winning (not the actual prize). No one can (or wants to) play because $10 is too high. If the amusement park fails to realize that, they will lose money and customers.
Being a Customer Centered Business
To be a customer-centered company you must evaluate all of your processes and think is there a better way this could serve the customers? Is this really what the customers want? If not, change it.
Do not try to become a customer centered society by bringing up customers at meetings, or simply telling employees to be more customer focused. This does not work.