Does success of my business depend on customers?

Yes, it is true that the success of your business very much depends on how well you treat your current and potential customers. Most organisations tend to render mediocre services to the customers mainly because they do not appreciate the following key issues relating to customers;

Customer is a king
The importance of the customer to the organisation is made clear by Mahatma Gandhi in the following quote;
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.”
Most organisations would achieve their mission if management clearly understood that the customer is the most important person in the organisation ahead of staff, management, board of directors and shareholders. Everybody in the organisation is at the service of the customers at all times.

Role of staff in customer care
I have talked to a number of employees of various organisations to confirm whether they understand their important role towards the customers.  I can only say most employees vaguely understand their role of attracting, serving and retaining customers. Employees should be trained and kept updated on their important role towards customers.

Responsibility of Customer Care
In a number of organisation customer coordination is according to whom it concern. In some organisations, the role of customer care is delegated to junior manager or officer who is not part of top management. In these situations, the customer issues are therefore not tabled in management meetings by a competent person.

In the board room
There are few organisations which have elevated the customer agenda to the board level with the appointment of a board member with knowledge and experience of customers. The customer agenda is often casually tabled by the chief executive when presenting the performance reports. I have also noted the customer agenda tends not to be a permanent agenda item at both management and board meeting. The board only becomes concerned with customers’ issues, when organisation’s performance is on decline.  It is may be too late to correct the situation.

Customer strategy
I have come across very few organisation with clearly spelt out customer strategy including the value proposition. Few organisations have   business intelligence unit with a mandate to collect information on customers. Few organisations keep their ears on the ground to know what is happening with their customers.

Touch Points with customers
Most of organisations have weak touch point with their current and potential key customers. This means customers are not bonded to the organisation and they are therefore free to leave at leisure.

Customer complaints
Quite often customers’ complaints are not taken seriously as customers are taken as the complaining type about everything including price, quality, customer and delivery among other things.

Reception is a torture area
Most reception areas are turning up to be torture areas for customers. You are confronted by the reception staff with a register to fill in your particulars and a demand to produce identity cards. The questions of when, who and why then follow. There is also a current trend of employing staff from security firms who are not very well trained in customer care. You are then told to sit on uncomfortable chairs and wait. As you wait no current newspapers and no TV or good TV program. The literature about the organisation is often torn and outdated.  The rule of first come, first serve is violated by the reception staff at leisure. In summary there is no deliberate effort to keep current and potential customers profitably engaged and happy while they are in your business premises.

Thank you message
I have been a key customer to number of organisations. I do not remember receiving any special thank message from them apart from year end crazy of Christmas gifts. I receive too many wines, cards, calendars at the same time. Why wait to say thank you when everybody is saying it?  I take this as a cut and paste approach. The tradition of using marketing cocktail to thank your customers is not appropriate. Remember customers expect VIP treatment from you.

Red flags of poor customer care
I have across many annoying red flags including the following;

  • Complaints of long waiting at reception
  • Too limited customer facilities while at your premises.
  • No deliberate effort to keep the customers in your premises happy and gainfully engaged.
  • No special provisions for customers with disabilities.
  • Senior staff walk in and out without ensuring that customers have been attended to.
  • Staff are not bothered with saying hallo to guests in the lift and staircases.
  • No effective customer satisfaction survey
  • No customer day
  • Limited activities to build customer royalty.

Take the above red flags positively as they provide opportunities for   improving the quality of your service offering to both current and potential customers.

The success of an organisation in my view very much depends on whether the current and potential customers are being given VIP treatment.  Well treated customers will reward you with customer loyalty and free business referral services. They will also act as ambassadors of the organisation on the market.