How well do you really know your customers? Is your company product-focused or customer-focused? All companies have products or services to sell of course; that is the point of being in business. But if your business is organized around your products or services instead of around your customers’ needs and wants, you are missing the difference between “customer value” (how much each customer is worth) and “customized value” (creating and delivering a valuable solution to each customer or customer group).
In the last several years, a new kind of Internet-based business model has evolved. Mostly initially small and almost always nimble and quick, these companies developed their products based on what their potential customers would want. Many of these companies, as they were developing their product or service, simultaneously created unique and vibrant customer experience models with data from CRM (customer relationship management) software, online customer communities, and even customer input into future features and research and development with various online collaboration tools.
Implementing a customer-focused business strategy may well take some time; especially if you are a SOHO business owner, freelancer or solo practitioner. The first step is to decide that your business strategy will be customer-focused. Next is to review your business goals. It is often difficult for small business owners who have to do “everything” themselves to make the time to pull themselves away from the day-to-day operations to do some serious contemplation and future planning, but is it imperative to business success to do just that.
If you already have your product or service mix set, take a close look at that mix: what are your best sellers? Why are they your best sellers? What element about each product or service delivers the value your customers are looking for? What can you do to enhance the products or services that your customers prefer?
After you have studied your products or services, make a list of procedures that you can strategically convert to be more customer-focused, Doesn’t matter if it is Quote to Cash or Idea to launch. Look at each of your business operations through the eyes of your customers. If you have a physical store, what does it look like as your customers enter? In one of my favourite grocery stores, the first section customers see is the produce section. Not only is it beautifully laid out with all of the produce fresh and easy to reach, there are little recipe cards available and menu ideas for the less-well-known fruits and veggies. But most of all, the store owner has employed aroma-therapy: there is a sweet scent of cinnamon and apple that greets the noses of the shoppers. They automatically linger and just enjoy the sights and smells of the good food they are going to purchase. What an experience. I drive across town just to shop at that particular store.
If you have a website (which you should–even if it is just a home page), another tip to make your customers feel like your company cares is to include a FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) section. When customers can quickly and easily find answers for the questions they have, they will be more likely follow up with a purchase, a recommendation, and a return to your business. Your customers are time-strapped and nothing is more annoying to customers than to have to wait on hold on the phone or worse, not get any answer at all. Look at things from their point of view.
One-by-one, examine your business operations, your marketing activities, and your staff training to ensure that all of your products and services are presented for the customers. Your customers will reward your business with increased sales and more loyalty.