No matter what kind of business you start, whether online or traditional, it is important that you maintain control over your operation from the beginning. You must be able to assess your personnel needs, manage costs, and attract and hire good people. Most important of all, you need to have customers — lots of it! To do otherwise spells doom for your business.
With the recent economic crisis, even thriving businesses felt the crunch and some even failing to survive Even big businesses such as Borders folded up. Businesses today can no longer ignore profits and continue spending lavishly.
Survival strategies take many forms. However, for any business to survive, whether a dot-com or a traditional brick-and-mortar, entrepreneurs must focus on their most important resource: customers.
Importance of Customers
Businesses are born with a product, but die without customers. Companies do not fail because they run out of money. They fail because they run out of customer’s orders. Having no cash or money is but a symptom of the deeper problem – the firm has failed to attract buyers for their products or services.
Customers provide the revenues needed to achieve profitability. Delight the customer and you can be sure that he or she will come back to you. In addition to the revenue from the customer’s purchases, satisfied customers provide free word-of-mouth exposure that increases your market. Satisfied customers will always be quick to tell others about good books they’ve read, handy products they’ve discovered and helpful services that saved them time, money or aggravation. A happy customer can bring more loyal, buying customers, which in turn bring in more loyal, buying customers. In addition, they can provide you with feedback to improve your product or services.
Connect with your customers and give them a reason to come back. It takes more than a good deal to make a satisfied customer. You’ll find that your most loyal customers keep coming back not because of your competitive price but because they like doing business with you. Create a positive customer experience, which is the combination of everything the customer sees and interacts with. The quality of customer experience is the key to a small business’ survival.
Customer Satisfaction as Core Strategy
Customer experience should be overarching strategy of any firm, whether large or small, if it wants to survive in today’s highly competitive marketplace. Everyone involved in the business – from the top management to the receptionist – should be focused on enhancing customer experience. In addition, the company’s success metrics should be measuring customer experience. More importantly, resources should be allocated to improve customer experience. All areas of the firm’s strategy should boil down to one question: is it good for the customer?
So how do you increase your stock of customer goodwill? Simple, make it easier for your customer to buy from you! This can be achieved by getting to know your customers. Gather as much information as you can about your customers. Learn their demographics, then analyze the buying practices and habits in the markets that you selected. Get to know them better and find out what they like and don’t like, their needs and motivations, perceptions and attitudes. Incorporate their likes into the way you do business, and avoid their dislikes. Try to identify the things that make life difficult for the person making the buying decision and then do everything to remove those obstacles.
If you’re a dot-com, bridge the gap between what customers want and what they get. Customers want simplicity, service, and to accomplish their goals. The Web, on the other hand, provides complexity, technology and compelling features. If your site is overly burdened by unnecessary technology whose sole purpose is to let your web designers flex their creativity but does not offer the experience that the customers want, then say goodbye to that customer.
The key is to make them value their relationship with you. Call them with tips that will save them money. Tell them about unadvertised specials that you are about to announce and about any seasonal discounts you offer.
Recommended Books on Winning and Keeping Customers:
- Exceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization
- Inspired: How To Create Products Customers Love
- Uncommon Service: How to Win by Putting Customers at the Core of Your Business
- Strategic Customer Service: Managing the Customer Experience to Increase Positive Word of Mouth, Build Loyalty, and Maximize Profits
- Customer Centricity: Focus on the Right Customers for Strategic Advantage (Wharton Executive Essentials)