As every entrepreneur knows, happy customers are the key to a healthy business. And when ecstatic customers lead to referrals and repeat business, it’s a win-win.
It’s simple in theory, but many companies fail to execute. When you focus on quick sales and vanity metrics, you’re not keeping customers’ needs in mind and are losing out on opportunities for sustainable growth.
Putting the success of the people you serve first will help you retain loyal customers and attract new business. Taking this approach sets the stage for people to buy rather than being sold — an experience no one enjoys.
Selling and marketing to your customers with the goal of helping them succeed is the surest way to build a loyal customer base. In our business, we’ve boiled this concept down to a few critical elements:
1. Have the Right Conversations
The first step in achieving success should be defining it. Sometimes customers haven’t fully fleshed out their idea of success before seeking a product or service to solve their problem. They don’t always know exactly how they want things to look at the end of the process. But the right conversations can help you sort out their ideas of success and develop a viable plan.
We encounter this situation all the time. Clients will ask us to redesign their websites, but they don’t communicate what’s driving the need for this change. For example, Snohomish County in Washington asked us to create a website that was more accessible to its citizens. After multiple conversations, we learned that a third of its traffic was coming from mobile. Without that type of in-depth dialogue, we never would have found a solution that actually addressed its core problem.
2. Know the People You Work For
The more you can identify with your customers’ habits, ideas, lifestyles, and demographics, the more likely you’ll be able to deliver real results. Your company is in a perfect position to help clients discover and achieve their goals. But to get there, you have to understand what they want.
The Missouri-based Modern Litho print network is a great example of an organization that takes this approach. It dedicates a significant amount of resources to staying up to date in its clients’ industries, which range from automotive to education. It understands its customers’ goals so it can help them be successful in their industries.
3. Bridge the Gap Between People and Technology
Whether your customers are companies or individuals, there are always opportunities for people and technology to complement each other. Finding ways to bring people and technology together seamlessly can lead to breakthrough ideas and more efficient ways of doing things. Technology helps people do more with less, inspiring efficiency and saving time and money. Your customers’ definition of success will likely be linked to more efficient technology.
4. Be Flexible and Adaptable
The path to achieving success is full of roadblocks and speed bumps, and it differs from person to person. That’s why success generally requires some custom finesse. There’s no single answer to all client or customer problems in our on-demand world. Listen to what your customers need or what they say is important to them, and collaborate to find a workable solution instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach to every problem.
5. Keep Your Promises
The companies or individuals you work for rely on your business to provide a solution. If you can’t deliver on your promise, you can’t help your customers achieve success. And without a sterling reputation and loyal customer base, your business will fail.
Whether they’re seeking a new mobile app or want to order takeout, you have to consistently deliver on your promise, and it’s important to establish a methodology that makes this possible every time. Remember that talk is cheap; keep your promise, and your customers will invest in your brand.
You don’t have to be a nonprofit or even a service-oriented business to be concerned about your customers’ success. If you have a T-shirt shop that caters to people who want organic clothing, offer information about your process and materials that proves they’re sustainable, and recommend other businesses that operate in the same way.
There’s nothing that can replace having a genuine interest in your customers’ well-being and helping them succeed in whatever they do. Keep customers’ success at the heart of your business, and they’ll thank you for it.
Mike Honeywell is the chief marketing officer of CivicPlus, a complete solution provider for local governments that facilitates their desired outcomes by helping align the right people, processes, and structures. Follow the company on Twitter.