“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” – Ray Kroc.
Raymond Albert Kroc, aka Ray Kroc, is of course the man behind the massive success a little fast-food chain known as McDonald’s! He is accredited with creating one of the most successful fast food operations in the world, and overseeing its worldwide growth. It’s actually a pretty interesting case-study, which I’ll definitely write speak about on this blog some other time.
Kroc was also included in Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Important People of the 20th Century’.
The point of quoting Ray Kroc in the beginning there was to emphasize on the importance of ‘putting the customer first’. As you can see, one of the most successful businesses in the world was built on this philosophy, and still operates by it.
What does ‘Putting the Customer First’ mean?
Putting the customer first, in simple terms, means that a business puts the needs and requirements of a customer ahead of anything and everything else.
Such a business strives to build healthy relationships with their consumers by identifying their needs and providing the best-possible experience to its customers.
These organizations pay special attention and emphasis on putting the customer’s priorities ahead of anything else, and end up providing a personalized customer experience.
They also acknowledge and thank their customers for their business from time to time, through various different methods and avenues.
Organizations that ‘put the customer first’ are commonly referred to as customer-oriented, customer-driven or customer-focused businesses. They are oriented towards serving the client’s needs, and measure customer-satisfaction levels in order to determine the success of their business.
Companies such as Apple, Samsung, Google and GE are just a few examples of customer-centric business models. These businesses strive to identify what their customers want, and do their utmost to fulfill their needs, wants and requirements with the products and services that they offer. These businesses also excel in customer-care and after-sales service.
For these organizations, being putting the customers first isn’t a strategy, it’s a culture!
Why is it essential to put the customer first?
For one essential reason: in order to be successful, an organization needs to continuously change and adapt to their customer’s ever-changing needs and wants. If they fail to do so, they will lose out to their competitors who are better at it, simple as that.
Therefore, putting the customer first is essential for customer-retention and customer-loyalty.
Why do people buy an iPhone every single year? Why does the iPhone – and Apple as a company – continue to dominate customer-satisfaction results year after year? Despite the emergence of strong competition, arguably better and stronger phones with superior operating systems, and companies such as Samsung spending billions into marketing?
For one simple reason: Apple knows what people want, and effectively satisfies their wants through its products. Which is why it has been able to build a strong army of loyal customers who are more than happy to pay for an iPhone or an iPad every single year!
How can organizations become more customer-oriented/customer-driven/customer-focused?
- Ask what the customer wants. Get inside their head. Primary and secondary marketing research is vital here. Collecting data through various methods will provide you with essential information about what people expect from you, and how you can fulfill their expectations. Apart from some of the traditional ways businesses collect such data, keep an eye out on Facebook comments, online forums where your customers hang-out (such as Reddit), and/or run keywords relevant to your business through Google to see what results pop-up (look on industry/market-specific blogs, for instance).
- Give your customer what they want. Sell them what they want to buy. Strive to provide them with the best value. Value is benefits minus cost. This is what people look at when determining whether they would want to do business with your organization or not.
- Ensure that your customers get easy access to each and every single one of your products and services at all times. Whether you decide to do this yourself, or through a partner/service provider is your call.
- Deliver on your promises! If you set a certain level of expectation, you need to be able to deliver on it. If you break any promise that you’ve made, it is clear that you don’t value your customer’s priorities. This can understandably be quite damaging to your reputation. It is also why it is essential to set realistic goals, so that you set realistic expectations in the first place.
- Acknowledge your customers for the business that they give you, for buying from you, for using your products and service year-in and year-out. Thank them through various different methods – from a simple ‘thank you message’ over social media. Speak with your customers and clients, respond to them, talk with them, and get to know them.
- Reward your customers from time to time. You can do this through various different avenues – discounts, sales or rebates, running promos, throwing a party, running a contest (with a valuable prize) and so on. Give something back to your clients. Be as creative with this as you can, think outside the box!
- Allow customers and clients to easily leave you feedback, and/or get in touch with you through various different methods – phone, email, website, from within the smartphone app (if applicable), or through an online forum. Dell, for instance, has a forum dedicated to support. Not only is this forum excellent in providing support to people via crowdsourcing, it is also an immense knowledge-base for Dell to monitor what their customers are saying about the company and its products.
- Make sure that being customer-oriented is not part of your organization’s strategy, it is an organizational culture! This requires teaching and training the right behavior, and rewarding it within the organization – behavior ensures that everyone under your organization’s umbrella is focused providing customers the solutions that they need.
- Adapt and change with time. Your customers and their needs, wants, and requirements are changing all the time. So should your products, services and your solutions.
As always, thoughts, comments or any feedback would be more than welcome! Just leave me a comment in the comments section below!