Too often, and through no malicious intent, companies lose sight of their customers interests. In many company war rooms, you’ll find brilliant people bunkered in the back of the building burning through notepads and hallucinating from the noxious fumes of dry-erase markers. Fight plans are drafted and pricing structures are in place. But, ultimately, none of this matters if your customers are not on board. You cannot “go live” in a ghost town.
We’ve all had the impossible call with customer service or have wanted to set fire to stacks of unnecessary rebate paperwork (and sometimes ourselves.) And there are companies that exploit the working poor in order to generate heftier profits. Bad business is all around us - I’m quite sure there are examples of companies you’d like to see fold. But, successful businesses have customers that support their success. Why would your customers want you to succeed?
Prices, the basest of all customer/company dynamic, and ultimately the cheapest (pardon the pun.) Your prices may keep your customer base, but if your service, brand and quality do not provide a similar value, your customers will eventually tire of “selling” their consumer dignity. Your customers will want you to succeed, but only as long as your prices make it worth it. If you know someone who would still shop at Wal-Mart if they raised prices, I’d like to meet them…On second thought, I’m busy that day.
Your brand (see also: Bragging Rights.) Customers are made up largely of human beings, and my anthropology professor told me that despite our best efforts, humans are emotionally dependent creatures. We seek validation and approval from others, if your company is one that connotes status or promotes a definite image, your branding is a reason your customers want you to succeed. Oftentimes, the more lucrative your brand, the higher the value of its emotional “stock.” Need proof? The iPhone has ego-boosted its way through a record-setting recession.
Because you defend them. Backwards right? But it is a rare occasion that customers defend their brand first. Companies defend their customers by knowing who they are, giving them what they want, and improving their quality of life. Defend customers from your competitors who might not have their sustainable interests in mind. Understand their humanity; share it, rather than exploit it.
The “forest for the trees” metaphor is dripping in apropos. All of the ingenuity in the world will not matter to you if your customers don’t.
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