Reading time ( words)
Be honest. When was the last time you sat down with your team and talked about how you can produce better products and services for your customers? When did you and your staff last discuss ways to make the customer experience extraordinary and put the “wow” factor in your products?
I bet the answer is “never.” We are all so busy just trying to meet our customers’ expectations that we spend very little or no time thinking about exceeding those expectations. We are only focused on getting the job done; we’re so focused on just getting the job done and over with that we end up being much more reactive than proactive.
Just think how much fun it would be to think up ways to blow your customers’ minds when it comes to your products. Think how great it would be if you thought up ways to turn your customers into customers for life.
Think about your own life. Think about the times that a company has surprised you to the point of delight. How about the flight attendant who thanked you for your loyalty to the airline? That felt pretty good didn’t it? Or how great it was when the host at your favorite restaurant called you by name and asked if you wanted to sit at your favorite table? Or how about when your car dealer’s service representative advised you about what was best for your car, even if the parts he recommended cost less than the ones you were going to buy? That felt great, didn’t it? You felt like that person was looking out for you, right? It felt like that person knew you so well, understood so clearly, and knew what your needs were that he was taking responsibility for your welfare. They cared so much about you that they were actually your experts when you did business with them.
Now, think about how great it would be if you actually spent time thinking about our customers, learning their needs and how your products can exceed those needs. Think about how great your customers would feel if you could do that for them.
That is what customer-purposed companies do. They make it their business to know everything about their customers. They put themselves in each customer’s shoes so that they can sense not only what the customer needs today, but what she is going to need tomorrow as well.
Being a customer-purposed company means understanding how your products add value to your customers’ purposes and goals. As Steve Jobs once said, “It isn’t the consumer’s job to know want they want.” It is our job to figure out what they want. Think about it. Apple is successful because they made it their purpose to know what their customers wanted and what would capture their imaginations, thus creating the ultimate in customer loyalty.
Look, Apple did it; why can’t we? Why can’t we think up ways to delight our customers? Why can’t we come up with processes and technologies that would exceed our customers’ needs and expectations?
Apple had a much tougher task; the company had to invent products from scratch, products that often left people wondering why they would ever need them at all. That is, until customers tried them for a while and then wondered how they ever lived without them.
It should be easier for us in the board industry. We don’t have to invent a new product, and we don’t have to deal with a retail market. The fact that we are actually building someone else’s product and we are in the job shop business should actually make things easier for us. There is already a product on the market; we just have to figure out how to make it better.
We have to figure out exactly what the customer is going to use our board for and then come up with a more appropriate way of processing that board so that we meet or exceed that need. We have to concentrate on developing the very best processes anyone has ever developed for making the best boards that anyone has ever seen. I know it’s not as simple as that, but we can try, can’t we?
Now, how about the way we deal with our customers? What about the very way we do business? Why are we all quoting jobs the same way? Why are we packing the boards the same way? Why are we all fabricating them the same way? Why aren’t we thinking about better ways to do everything?
Look, all I ask is that you just give it a try. Set up a team of your smartest people, your creative people, and your best customer-oriented people and meet for one hour each week. Just spend one hour weekly thinking about how you could provide more value to your customers and become a true customer-purposed company.
I promise you that it will be the most valuable thing you do this week. It’s only common sense.