The most important component around which any business thrives is “Customer”. All of an entrepreneur’s efforts will go in vane if we there are no customers for his product or service. And this is precisely explained by the quote,
“Customer is the King”
Not just a king, we feel that customer is the kingmaker too. The mindset that “The customer is always right” underscores the value we place on our customers, regardless of our industry. Especially in today’s economic climate, most companies recognize that their existence largely depends on how well they can engage and service customers and offer them the products or services that they need.
But if we take this to a broader meaning of the work. We will find that Customers are sub-divided into two:
- External Customers
- Internal Customers
While we all know that external customers are of utmost impetus but we should not deny the fact that internal customers are equally important for the growth of a startup. So, let’s take these one at a time.
To begin with let’s focus on the External Customers, who are the end users of our product or service. With the current evolution on work and business settings, coupled with ever-increasing technological advancement, ‘customer is king’ means more than just subscribing to good customer service, it means really practising it too.
- Give them best return on their investment: Even if you give your customer the best possible product, the thing that they will try to find is the value for their money. This is what you have to give them. Even before you think of treating them well when they’re buying your services, you should always keep customers in mind when developing new products or offerings.
- Never underestimate their power: It’s great to know their power. You should never offend your customers because it can result in a serious loss to your business. In fact, it is truer in today’s economy where customers hold more power thanks to social media. In the past, what made a customer king was their ability to boycott your products and influence others to do the same through word-of-mouth. Today, social media upgrades that power. Negative words about your company or your brand can spread a lot faster over the web.
- Avoid Aggressive marketing: Don’t tell your customers what to do because a customer doesn’t want to be told what to do. Studies show that aggressive marketing may actually turn customers off. They however tend to listen and trust the opinions of their advisers, so, the best you can do is to influence them by targeting these advisors. These advisors should be the target of your marketing strategy.
- Make this Simple for them: In today’s fast paced world, people want to save as much time, money and energy as possible. Hence, make sure you’re accessible to your customers. You should be where your customers are because saving them the hassle will make them more likely to buy from you. If you’re running an online campaign, for instance, the rule is to make sure the mechanics are simple. The easier it is for them to participate, the better.
- Give them the creative freedom: By this we don’t profess that you let them run your business. What we basically mean is sometimes you could let your customers dictate what they want or how they want it. We’re talking about letting your customers participate in product development. Let them provide ideas about the product they desire of. There are many successful ventures like Starbucks and Lego who go by this model.
Whatever industry you are in, whatever business you run, your customers and would-be customers will always be one of your most valuable stakeholders. How well you treat them will have a large impact on your business. Never treat your relationship with your customers as transactional but instead as a long-term relationship that needs to be sustained.
While, we say that, let’s not forget the other customer who is equally important, i.e; our internal customers or the Employees, who often don’t get that much attention. Better known as “employees” or “staff,” these internal customers are often viewed by what they can deliver to you or your organization. The unfortunate result of this perception: Internal customers lack the care and feeding that is given to external customers. We should never forget the fact that our internal customers are as valuable to our success as our external customers. They act as the ambassadors of our company and hence, happy and motivated team members in turn create happy external customers. Let’s see what we can do to maintain these Internal Customers:
- Communication: For any two way relation to grow and develop, communication is the most important feature. In case of your employees, we suggest, start by listening to them. As an addition to keeping team members informed through scheduled meetings and ongoing written communications, make sure that management is visible and accessible. Walk around the office and speak with your team members informally. Find out any concerns they may have and their suggestions for improving the workplace. And take this a bit further by actually implementing the suggestions that you think will work in favour of your set-up.
- Get to know your Employees: Understand your employees and their professional development goals and needs. Help them maintain a healthy work/life balance and by giving them certain amount of freedom.
- Create a friendly and progressive environment: Try to create a progressive and family friendly environment for your employees. Try to offer them a flexible work schedule to accommodate work/family balance. Since everyone has to take on more work now, try to make sure that staff members don’t feel too overwhelmed or stressed.
- Opportunities for Growth: Have a growth plan with a proper career path for your employees. Take an interest in their development. What do they need to do in order to grow? What new challenges can you offer them? What type of training would be helpful?
- Technological advancements: Understand what technological tools your team needs in order to work better and provide them with it, before they are frustrated.
- Rewards and Recognition: Recognition is one of the most important human needs. Hence, reward and recognize the great work of your team members. It’s amazing how valued team members will feel when you commend and recognize them in front of their peers.
If you go right with these two customers, your business will surely reach massive heights and you will agree for yourself that “Customer is the King”.