Thursday, 23 August 2012

Being customer focus doesn’t sell anymore pt 2

When businesses decide to be customer focus, their objective is simple: Control. They want to control the customer to do what they want – buy. Today, consumers no longer want to be controlled. They want products and services that add more value to their lives, and meet their needs – both stated and unstated needs.

In a people focus business, your aim is not to control or satisfy your business interest but to meet the need of the ‘person’ not just the customer. It means making your product or service do more by allowing the users maximize the resources invested - time, money, emotion etc. It involves integrating all the values that makes an individual more effective and efficient in life. For instance, you have a mobile phone, your need as a consumer of that hand-set is to make calls or communicate. But as a person, your need is that of living a comfortable and peaceful life. Hence, phone manufacturers add more services to your phone to meet your life needs not just the need to make calls. Thus, you can buy and sell through your phone, surf the web, store tons of information etc.

Is this the same as Corporate Social Responsibility? No. CSR is a tool mainly for building brand equity/business image. You can do anything good to build your brand equity, but it doesn’t make you people focus. In a people focused business, your target is to see the individual get all the desired benefits from the product in a commercially viable way.

Do you think you have met all the requirements that will make your offer to a person irresistible?

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Being customer focus doesn’t sell anymore

In most business seminars or schools, you will be told that being a customer centric business will help you earn more market shares. Whether that still holds today, is left for scholars to tell us. Every business you can think of tries to define its business and marketing activities around the customer. You hear phrases like - know your customers’ need and provide it for them, understand your customer, get closer to your customers etc. 

If business is as easy as being customer focus, every entrepreneur will be smiling to the bank everyday. The fact that not all businesses that are customer centric succeed means that that strategy is now old; you need a broader definition of your market. Even the customers know that your business is not about them; rather it’s more about you.

Today, business has moved from being customer centric to being people centric. Successful businesses have discovered that focusing on your customers is such a myopic way to do business in the 21st Century considering that needs change with time. When Philip Kotler discussed about the holistic kind of marketing, he was talking about doing business in such a way that both your customers and non customers benefit from your activities directly or indirectly. This type of business mindset recognizes that everything matters – not just your customers alone.

The key to engaging more people in your business is to go beyond designing your product and all your marketing campaign around your customers. Think of the value an individual will experience through your business or product.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Do you value your customers?

I recently outsourced some services to a small business owner, though not established, the service provided was a big relieve, and I hoped the transaction will create a lasting relationship between us. Since our first meeting, we have done our transactions mainly through phone successfully on four different occasions, and in all our discussions, I discovered I had to introduce myself whenever I call because he did not store my number on his phone.
Well, I felt I was not taken serious even though both of us were profiting from the transaction; I had to end the business relationship, and looked for another company to provide me with the same service.

                                Any relationship you cannot cherish, you cannot profit from it.

The starting point of any business is to build relationships and values around people. People make up a business and any business that will not take people seriously doesn’t deserve patronage. Until you begin to see your customers beyond the transactions and the amount you will earn from them, you will never take them serious. Forget about the customer being king, we all know it is hypocritical. Every decision we make, we make for the success of the business and not the customer.
Having value for your customers as much as you have for your business, is what keeps customer centric businesses growing. No matter how small the amount of the transaction, as long as you are profiting from it, respect it.

Some of the mistakes we make include:
1.      Failure to keep individual data or record
Some small businesses fail to have a database of their customers. They don’t know what their buying behavior is, they cannot tell at what point they are likely to buy more or less. Having information of your customers and their needs helps you serve them better.
2.      Not dealing with customer complain
This is quite obvious when there is a sudden upsurge of patronage. When there are complains, business owners tend to ignore it, sometimes, not deliberately. If this is allowed to continue, the result will be so many customers withdrawing from patronizing you.
3.      Focusing more on current customers
It is good to make new customers, but better to care for the old customers. The old customers will always be there when things go wrong. They have become loyal unlike the new ones. Finding a balance is very important as well as an attempt to convert the new customers into loyal customers.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012


Keeping promises made to your customers brings about a repeat purchase. You may not keep pace with customer expectations as they change daily, but you have control on delivering the promises that your product or business has made. Being successful in business now requires reconciling your business or product promise with customer expectations. You must keep your side of the bargain if your business must move from making profit to sustaining profit. And sustained profit is only possible through loyal customers who get quality services and products.

You can deliver your promises in four major ways:
  • Promise and under-deliver: You lose your customers as you make them
  • Promise and deliver: You keep the moment, at this point, you have gained the confidence of your customers, and they know what to expect from you.
  • Promise and Over-deliver: This is the level SMEs are expected to operate. The competition is intense, and customers want to get more for less and will be willing to buy from whoever will make that possible.
  • Over promise and under deliver: This is one major problem ‘salesmen and Marketers’ have, and the reason they are not taken serious.

You cannot build loyal customers if your business is not delivering on its promises. Fulfilled promises, build business reputation and customer confidence. This promise is a commitment that you business has made to the customers and you are obliged to keep your own side of the bargain. When customers buy from you, they are trusting that you fulfill your promise of satisfying them with your product or service, failure to do so could lead to cognitive dissonance.
To give your customers that experience that will always bring them back, you must set customer expectation goals to go beyond satisfying the basic need of the customer to the assumed or unstated need.

Here are ways to keep your side of the bargain
  1. Ensure that your product or service is worth the price. There may be tendency to inflate prices especially when you feel that the customer lacks good knowledge of the product features. It is your responsibility to ensure that they derived absolute satisfaction from the product.
  2. Build trust and loyalty, not your bank account. Any promise delivered, is another building block added to the trust your customers have for you. If you succeed in making your customers trust you, you will succeed in building a profitable business.
  3. Decide to follow-up