What's a business without its customers? Although it's tempting to believe that the company’s product and its business operations are the key to profits, it is crucial to remember that a business would not exist without its customers. From a competitive standpoint, value is a key driver of success, especially the value perceived by the customer. Customers purchase products, spread referrals through word-of-mouth, and hopefully become fiercely loyal over time. As Ken Blanchard, a management expert and business author says, “Just having satisfied customers isn’t good enough anymore. If you really want a booming business, you have to create raving fans.”
Southwest Airlines offer an excellent example of the value of a customer. Southwest hires employees around one common purpose, and it’s not the paycheck. With company vision in mind, they motivate their employees to work together towards the company explicit purpose: “We exist to connect people to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel.”
How does Southwest instill this purpose into each of their employees and encourage them to treat customers so well? Through storytelling. Each week, Southwest Airlines gives a shout-out to employees who have gone above and beyond to provide great customer service. They also highlight positive behaviors through a variety of recognition programs and awards, according to Forbes Magazine. Each of their employees lives out their work-life wanting to be friendly and striving to put the customer first. This company attitude is what has allowed Southwest to report profitability for 40 consecutive years.
“It’s not one of the enduring mysteries of all time,” founder Herb Kelleher once said. “A motivated employee treats the customer well. A customer is happy so they’ll keep coming back, which pleases the shareholder. It’s just the way it works.”
The Importance of Customer Experience to the Success of the Business
An integrator’s ability to face competition with confidence and innovation is a key driver of success in this industry. While some may argue that differentiation of products or technological advancement or similar things are what puts a company forward, this is not typically the case. The customer is the key driver of business. Without paying customers, there would be no business. In fact, it is the experience with the company and employees that makes customers loyal to the business - making a firm competitive.
A system integrator is offering the same systems and the same products as other integrators. What they have to offer is customer experience and that's what will set them apart. It is not the buzz words, the technology or the products; it’s what the customer experiences and the dedication to solving problems proactively.
“The experience we deliver is becoming more important than the product we deliver," Christopher Hugman, CEO of System Surveyor.
How to Retain Customers and Turn Them into Raving Fans
Exemplifying your values in practice and business will attract and retain customers. On top of this, there are many other tactics that companies can employ to build and retain a strong and loyal customer base.
In fact, it all starts at the first engagement. This is a crucial time to guide and allow the prospective customer to define their desired solution and build confidence that you can deliver for them. This will help raise their sense of ownership in the process, giving them a secure and confident customer experience. It is all about listening and being a "trusted advisor". The key is to get them more visually involved in planning so that they feel as if they are indeed being heard.
Following this, involve your customer in the procurement process. This means determining a way for the customer to create ownership of their project. Let the customer see the design and participate in the entire process. What are they seeking to gain? What will they actually be getting? This process engenders a sense of trust between the customer and the company, strengthening their loyalty and building a solid reputation for the business.
Along with these things are the usual aspects of customer attraction and retention. These include honesty, transparency, personal connections, and loyalty programs.
- • Being honest and transparent with your customers will help them buy into your company, feel an attachment to it, and prevent them from turning their business towards a competitor.
- • Understanding the customer personally helps to build a personality for the business that is centered around the customer.
- • Finally, loyalty programs give customers an incentive to come back for business and makes them feel happy and cared for!
Hiring Employees that Emphasize Customer Experience and Values
Just as Southwest Airlines hires employees that live out the core values of the company, so should any company that wants to experience such fantastic growth. Southwest is known for their amazing customer service and their employees are recognized as the “cheerful and engaging comedians”.
These aspects of the company culture are what attract Southwest’s continual business. People will keep coming to them instead of the competition because of their customer experiences, no matter the price. Southwest hires employees who exemplify the company’s values and who are engaging and easy to interact with.
Considering customer experience during the hiring process is key. When you hire new team members, the focus of the interview and evaluation should be on how the customer experience will be viewed through the words, actions, and characteristics of the new hire. Visualize yourself as the customer during an interview and get a good sense of how the new employee would benefit or harm the experiences.
In summary, your systems, your culture and your hiring processes need to support the customer experiences through the façade of your employees, and your brand needs to target the customer experience. Value is a key driver of success, especially the value perceived by the customer. Customers are the beating heart and the lifeline of the business. Without them, the company would be lost, so take efforts to turn your customers into loyal and raving fans.
See what some raving fans have to say about System Surveyor. That is the best form of flattery! Thank you to our fans.