Monday, 25 April 2011

Putting the customer first.

Many organisations realise the importance of building and maintaining a relationship with the customer however, for many organisations it’s generally superficial. They would love to maintain a relationship with the customer as long as you keep buying. Once that stops they aren’t interested. In some respects this is understandable. It costs organisations time and money to manage a relationship with the consumer so why should they do it? The answer is in the long run it still pays to do so.

We live in a networked society. Everyone is connected with each other. as such information gets spread very quickly. If a customer has had a good experience chances are they are likely to share it. If organisations can build an ethos around relationships then the holy grail of loyalty can be achieved. I am not talking about talking to a customer once in a while to make sure the product or service is okay or even setting up a forum so customers can chat about the brand or general topics. No, it has to be intertwined with how the company is run. This means treating employees like they are part of the family, and making sure you don’t squeeze suppliers so they can barely stay afloat.

So how do organisations put their customers at the forefront of everything? It’s certainly easier for some industries to implement. Industries which are heavily customer driven for example, a video game developer could engage with the consumer much more easily than a company selling wood varnish. Valve software who develop games such as Half life and Portal 2 are a company that I have studied and highly admire the way they are respected by all stakeholders. They always release a product that exceeds customer expectation (an important thing to remember) and they give of the sense that they are not in it for the money but they are in it to do something they love and therefore share their love for developing video games with customers. Public companies struggle to achieve this as they have shareholders who will always want the company to focus on short term profits.

When starting a business money should not be your main motivation. The main goal should always be how my product or service can bring joy to masses of people.
 Giving your customers a chance to feel part of the brand will create a brand community and will lead to the Holy Grail, brand loyalty.

Too many organisations either neglect their customer altogether or just make it seem like they care as it’s the status-quo. Organisations who really do put the customer first and I don’t mean by just saying you do on your website will be successful in the long run. Actions really do speak louder than words.

What are your thoughts about putting the customer first? Let me know in the comments below.