The No. 1 need for business success is a customer. That’s pretty obvious, so why am I telling you this?
It may be obvious, but most companies seem to quickly forget this essential fact. Small and Start-up companies desperately need customers to begin their journey to profits and sustainability. Many large Fortune 1000 companies forget the customers that made them successful.
Just look at all your daily life experiences in dealing with a phone company, an airline, an utility, your cable provider, a government provider, etc. In their effort to develop systems to deal with their size, they become impersonal and forget about the one constituency that propelled their success: their customers – who become increasingly frustrated with their treatment and are open to change their buying behavior.
Customers are important because they give the companies the orders that initiate the service or product that gets delivered and creates the company cash income – the lifeblood of the enterprise.
You might posit that orders are most important, but orders do not create more orders. Only satisfied customers do that. Happy customers whose expectations are met or exceeded become your best salespeople and effectively promote your wares by word of mouth, at no cost to you. You can’t buy more effective advertising than that.
Satisfied customers are likely to become long-term customers who will look forward to buying your new offerings. It is much easier to increase revenues through existing customers than to find new ones and much less costly. The bonus is that these satisfied customers will get you new ones through singing the praises of your company, its products and/or services to their friends, family, and acquaintances.
Unlike all other forms of media advertising, there is no cash outlay for this. There is, however, an investment in maintaining the quality, service, need fulfillment, value, timelines, warranty, etc. of your offering whether a product or service. If you deliver on these actions, positive word of mouth will enable your continued growth and sustainability. Likewise, if you fall short, you’ll have to deal with negative word of mouth, which can spread more rapidly than the positive kind. Witness people leaving a bad movie and emphatically voicing their disappointment as they leave the theatre.
So, amid all the chaos problems, uncertainties, distractions and new opportunities, which are typical of a small business, don’t forget for a minute how all your decisions and actions affect your customers. Neglect or short change them and be prepared to pay a high price. Satisfy them and Prosper.