THE CUSTOMER IS KING OR QUEEN?
Over the years I have heard countless people say that they are sick of working for somebody else and wish to be self-employed, starting their own business some day and working for themselves. If I get the chance, I remind them that when we start into business, the customer is your boss! We are never self-employed but in a very real way customer-employed. We exchange one boss that pays us a weekly or monthly wage, for another boss that is more uncertain and may or may not deicide to pay our wages. Henry Ford once said, “It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” In fact they can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down by simply spending their money somewhere else.
Ultimately customers are people like you and I who want a need meet or a dream realized.
As a customer, when I enter a restaurant the host maybe busy but all I ask to begin with is to be acknowledged. “Hello, I’ll be with you in a minute”. Then the long list of customer experiences begin. Do they get back to me quickly? Do they seem genuinely interested? Do they ask for my name? Do they remember my name? Do the chief’s love me with their food? Are the interactions I have positive? Dose the sum-total of my small interactions ad up to, wow that was great, or hmmm that was averaged ? I never forget when Air New Zealand Airlines must have decided to train their staff to remember and use the customers name. Hello Mr Walton, would you like a drink! Wow I’m important!
So many company’s spend big money on advertising and band development, but fall over when they send a grumpy waiter out to serve me, or employ a chief that was good at interviews but couldn’t cook to save his life.
Customer experiences happen every day, at every level, in every business on earth, but the attitude behind all of these interactions is all important, and comes through.
I started out calling Pillar Three, The Ad, then The Market, however, I then realized that I was focused on the process, and not on the person at the heart of every businesses -The Customer. Businesses that are loyal to their customers allow the customer to drive the enterprise, the services and the product development, in fact every aspect of the business.
When I started my property development and construction company, White Cloud Innovations, I was passionate about building smaller homes that where affordable, but that still looked cool. It made me angry to see neighbourhoods of new, low-cost homes that where ugly or cheap looking - an environmental disaster! Our success as a company has come from a genuine desire to serve people with great quality, beautiful spaces, but at an affordable price.
According to Peppers and Rogers 2005, The customer experience has emerged as the single most important aspect in achieving success for companies across all industries. Customer experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with the supplier of goods and/or services, over the duration of their relationship. According to James Allen of Harvard Business School, 80% of businesses state that they offer a great customer experience. This is in stark contrast to the 8% of customers who feel the same way.
A positive customer experience dose not happen by accident, but by design. A company or not-for-profit must define and understand all aspects of the customer experience in order to have long-term success. Then train and empower the team to deliver the proposed experience, and deliver it genuinely and consistently. A company must constantly teach, train and develop in order to keep up with the constant demands of providing an exceptional customer experience.
A company's ability to deliver a great experience that sets it apart in the eyes of its customers will, research reveals, increase the amount of consumer spending and inspire loyalty to its band. Building great consumer experiences is a complex enterprise, involving strategy, integration of technology, orchestrating business models, brand management and CEO commitment.
The increasingly online nature of the modern marketplace does not alter the fundamentals of sound business practice: in the long term, there is no substitute for providing good products and services at a reasonable price, done with love.
THE SPIRIT OF NEW GENERATION ENTERPRISE
The foundation principle of business is the creation of products and services that meet people’s needs. These innovations must love people for them to want to part with their hard earned money.
Kevin Roberts, once the worldwide Chief Executive of the advertising agency Saatchi and Saatchi when speaking on building a great ‘brand’ introduced the idea of “the love-mark." Brand creators used to speak in terms of brand names and brand image, but these days it goes much deeper. Roberts says “You can plot any relationship – brand or otherwise – by whether it’s based on love or respect. High respect ratings used to win. These days a high love rating wins. If you don’t love what you’re offering me, go home.!”
Roberts argues that consumers don’t want any more information. “They are suffering from information overload and what they want now is relationship. They want connections.” What Roberts is saying in essence is that successful businesses of the future must build a relationship with their customers, offering products and services which people love (the love-mark ).
One of the leading characteristics of successful business people is their passion and belief in their product or service. Successful business is about serving people with innovations that love them. Love innovations are the products and services generated from a genuine desire to serve another person’s success or comfort. Love innovations are the creative acts of kindness and romance which keep our relationships at every level alive and adventurous.
The first business I started was a gym named Body and Soul. This was something that was inspired by reading the story of the YMCA, the organization that popularized basketball andgymnastics'. Body and Soul was a not-for-profit organization set up under a Church called The Rock, meeting in a large warehouse, with over a thousand people attending. This gym would help fully utilize their facility and contribute to their mortgage.
I started it because, at the time there was no gym in the area, and I was passionate about having a gym that was a beautiful space, low cost, with friendly staff and where ordinary people would feel relaxed. In our city at the time gyms where quite sterile, cold and unfriendly. Lots of big mirrors, muscle men, tanning oil and the annual subscription had to be paid up front.
So we created a cool space great art, a cafe, kids care and an aerobic’s room with two huge palm trees either side of the stage. The place looked like a large cafe with a gym in the corner. We then advertised, inviting people to join for $1 a day. It was full to capacity within a year of starting and stayed that way year-in, year-out.