Customer Focus Is The Key To Unlocking Your Full Business Potential
You don’t report to Frank Sterns for 15 years and not learn a little bit about wine. Frank was my boss at both Niles and Infinity. And while you might not know him, you’ve probably sold, installed or even used some of the market-leading products he developed. Maybe you’ve even tasted his award-winning Aurielle wine. We both enjoy a passion for high-end electronics, and Frank’s love of fine wine has rubbed off on me.
So when I came home with a bottle of red from my local epicurean store, I immediately recognized it as being bad (Frank calls it being “corked”) from its aroma of wet dog ears. I returned to the store seeking a cure. With full bottle and receipt in hand, I approached the check-out clerk with my dilemma. But she wasn’t having any of it. Without blinking an eye, she responded in an abrupt tone, “We don’t take alcohol back!”
Well, I can’t say exactly what it was, but her delivery triggered my lizard brain to understand something quite different, and The Evil Sparky came out. After a meaningful conversation with the store manager I finally left with a different bottle of wine. But I also left with something else—trepidation about buying wine from that store again. And I never have. Now I take the extra time to buy wine from the shop across the street. This might not seem significant but on an annual basis, the store has likely lost $2K in revenue to their competitor who has a more customer-centric attitude.
While it’s easy to overlook a poor experience when purchasing commodity products, it’s hard to ignore poor customer service experiences at the top of the scale. Whether it’s specialty foods or custom retail electronics, customer focus can make or break a brand. That’s why clerks at Nordstrom walk around the counter to hand you your purchases and associates at the Ritz Carlton greet you when passing in the hallways. Luxury brands are expected to deliver something special. This means that high-end oriented companies like yours must deliver rich, personal experiences in order to charge the premium prices that are necessary to make a profit.
All too often we get caught up in the products we sell and neglect the memorable experiences we must deliver in order to keep selling them. The famous trainer Howard Hyden has made a career of teaching companies about how to deliver these experiences using a simple technique he frames as “outside-in thinking.” In other words, viewing things from the customers’ prospective, not our own. Here are a few outside-in techniques you can share with your staff that I hope will make your business even more customer-centric and unlock its full potential.