Friday's blog identified 21st-century antidotes to achieving optimum success as a business owner. While Forbes online magazine highlighted the importance of a customer-centric organization as the solution, CPR recommends an employee and customer-centered approach to organizations, including small businesses. Friday, CPR drilled down on solutions that can be easily implemented asap to commence your ascend into increased productivity and revenue. In today's post, we will explore a customer-centric approach not equivalent to "customer is always right." Let's begin.
As an entrepreneur, it is important to highlight different levels of customers. There are internal and external stakeholders that are indeed customers. In business, a stakeholder is a group interested in a company and impacts its operations. Stakeholders have their own goals and objectives, including:
Make critical decisions that may affect your organization.
Have lives that may be affected by your organization’s decisions
Financially or physically better or worse off when things change.
connected to a broader network of people who are, in turn, affected by any changes and decisions
Most businesses regard customers as one of the most important groups of stakeholders. Customers are part of the external stakeholder group. According to Indeed editorial board (2021):
Internal stakeholders have a direct interest in the organization. This interest is because of the nature of their relationship with the organization. Examples of direct relationships include employment, investment, or ownership.
External stakeholders don't work within an organization, but the outcomes and actions of the organization affect them. These stakeholders can influence the day-to-day operations of a company. Examples of this group include customers, suppliers, and creditors. External stakeholders may not have a clear link to the organization, but they can still directly affect it. For example, the government might implement legislation that directly affects an organization without a direct relationship. Furthermore, some potential customers must also be considered.
Research indicates the importance of stakeholders. As a leader, it is essential to know the benefits of understanding who your stakeholder are and how they rank in importance. The benefits of stakeholders are summarized by Forbes (2021). Stakeholders:
Empower people – get stakeholders involved in the decision-making process.
Create sustainable change – engaged stakeholders help inform decisions and provide the support you need for long-term sustainability.
Build relationships – create mutually beneficial relationships, build on existing relationships or foster new ones
Build a better organization – Engaging with stakeholders can bring important issues to light and encourage your organization to develop corporate social responsibility.
Increase success – Engaging influential groups (who might otherwise hold you back) and turning them into supporters and advocates can boost your success.
Educate – Stakeholders can be a valuable source of information for your organization, and they may learn something from you.
Customers as stakeholders refer to how customers influence an organization's success. They typically want to purchase high-quality goods and services at the lowest price possible. The customer has the most significant effect on the success of an organization, as continued customer support is necessary for a business to continue operating. Customers might also contribute to the organization's reputation by sharing their comments and feedback with others. The ability of a customer to take their business away from an organization and instead make a purchase from a competitor is one reason customers often have priority among the different stakeholders. It's in the interests of an organization to prioritize this class of stakeholders.
Understanding the importance of customers as stakeholders, we also need to ensure that the stakeholders are satisfied. As a small business owner, how are you customizing your approach to satisfy your customers? Customer satisfaction is vital to any business, including the small business owner. Below are some of the top reasons why customer satisfaction is vital, and some clarity on it can be implemented in a small business:
Indicates customer loyalty
Uniqueness=sets the business apart from competitors.
Reduces the risk of customer churn
Increases customer value
Reduces negative feedback
Keeping loyal customers is more manageable than searching for a new target market.
Loyalty is defined as a strong feeling of support or allegiance. Customer loyalty is the unwavering support of a customer who values your product or service. The loyal customer is candid about the gap that needs to be filled, and if you are listening, you will undoubtedly fill the gap and pick up a loyal customer. To implement loyalty, you must give your customer something they can rave about. It could be quality, service, price, response time, and many other ways. This is the one area your customer will forget about your competitor and do not hesitate to repeat purchase.
One way to stand out from your competitors as a brand is to stand out. As a leader, it should commence at the home front. The tone and experience that is driven by the culture within your organization make a difference. To be candid, an organization that meets the needs of its employees (internal stakeholders) will have higher customer (external stakeholder) satisfaction. The business industry is a competitive marketplace. As a small business, while you may not be able to outspend your competitor, you can undoubtedly offer V.I.P experiences by developing your employees to know that each customer is a V.I.P and thus should be handled accordingly.
Whether it's service, punctuality follow-up, response to inquiries, quality products, the list goes on and on, each business competes for customers, and the only way for you to stand out among others is by providing excellent customer satisfaction. Companies that make it to the top focus on customer satisfaction. They listen to what their customer needs and wants, giving them the edge to be the top choice of consumers.
Reduced customer churn
Customer churn is when customers stop doing business with the company. Studies show that price is not usually the top concern of customers, but the quality of customer service offered. High customer satisfaction will likely reduce the risk of customer churn. Most organizations use customer service as a metric where they can easily measure performance and the levels of improvement made.
Increased customer value
According to Forbes (2021), ‘delighted customers’ give businesses more revenue than ‘dissatisfied customers. Long-term companies understand the importance of increasing customer value. The higher the customer value is, the higher the returns will be.
Furthermore, increased customer value also allows businesses to get a 100% ROI in a short period. Customer satisfaction is the main reason why customer value increases. At the end of the day, as yourself, “What should I do to keep my customers loyal and spend more?”'
Reduced negative feedback
Happy and unhappy customers will most likely share their experiences with your business. And as much as you like to keep people happy, some will find your services unsatisfactory.
Even more alarming is that unhappy customers tell their experiences more than happy customers. And that’s bad news for your business. Negative feedback will domino effect on your business, tarnishing your reputation.
As a small business, take the time to ask for feedback online, via postcard, phone survey, or in person. For better or worse, knowing upfront can save you hundreds of dollars. Providing the feedback is negative, you can what public affairs representatives call "getting in front of the negative news."
Keeping loyal customers
Businesses need to find new customers to stay afloat. The formula is to retain your loyal customers and find new ones simultaneously. According to the Small Business administration, getting new customers costs more than keeping their existing customers happy. In an era where social media reigns supreme, the budget for advertising, marketing, promotion, and over-the-top (OTT) marketing is an expensive endeavor. CPR recommends referrals or word of mouth from your current customers for small businesses. You can easily offer a special discount to an existing customer when a referral results in a contract. Rule of thumb: be generous with the discount. Offering a 50% discount is most advantageous. After all, this is equivalent to having your very own sales team.
An organization that promotes a healthy work culture also respects its employees and values its customers, two stakeholders that undoubtedly make a difference in annual revenue.