When your customer has a problem, are you there first with the right answer?

When your customer has a problem, are you there first with the right answer?

When I was a kid in school, my teacher would pose a problem or ask a question. It was expected that we would raise our hands. The student that raised their hand first was the one that was called upon and given the opportunity to give the right answer. Don’t miss the chance to keep customers by not raising your hand first.

This is also true in business today. Business owners should not only be looking to be the first to answer their customers’  questions and solve their problems, but they should also strive to  solve the problem before it happens. What can really set your business apart is to be a “customer-centric” business — one who is figuring out a customer’s concern before the customer even has a chance to experience it. Changing the way you focus on solving customers’ concerns is what sets business owners up for success.
In business and life on the Internet you have to be one of the students that raises your hand first. You have to be there first to let that customer know you care and want to solve any problem they have. You want them to go “WOW” to your response — not only in the uniqueness of that response but also in its timeliness and accuracy.  If you give the wrong answer (or no answer at all!), you might as well be paying your competitors’ marketing expenses. It’s literally like advertising for your competitor when you drop the ball. The teacher always called on someone else if you got the answer wrong, and so will your customer. You just missed your opportunity, now the next student or business gets to step-up and when they get it right, they also get YOUR customer!

From the beginning,  you want to be a customer-centric business — making decisions based on what is best for the customer, not what is best for you.

You want to create a space that allows for the minute someone goes online and asks a question, knowing you have the answer. You want to be the business that has the solution to their problem. In order to do that, speed is an issue. Timeliness and responsiveness are all factors that grab customers’ attention. You hardly ever see the news highlighting how great a company handled a complaint. It is, however, great news when a company falters and we get to see how dissatisfied someone is and how frustrated they are when a company doesn’t solve a problem (think about the recent news coverage about Netflix, for example).

Accuracy: depending on the industry that you’re working in, think about how accurate your answer is when solving the original problem. Do you show your work so that the customer can understand why you got to the answer that you got?

Being able to understand your customer and to walk in their shoes is the greatest skill on which you could focus. Learning that skill means becoming objective enough to see your business from an outsider’s view, and the customer’s view. What is the customer’s experience with your business? When you can see customers’ experiences, you can objectively make decisions about changes that can enhance their experience. The majority of businesses make decisions based on employee and owner satisfaction.  I propose that as the owner, it’s your job to make the experience easy, positive and entertaining. You want the customer to want to return to you for future business. You want them to choose you over the competition because you make it easy for them. This is where the true strategy comes into play — thinking about how you set your business up so it is easy for the customer. Their experience should be pleasant and easy and entertaining wouldn’t hurt.  Think about this, rather than focusing on “how can I make my day better as a business owner,”  ask yourself, “how can I improve my customers experience when doing business with me?”

I’m not saying you shouldn’t be thinking about how to work less and make more money — that’s working smarter.Business owners need to step back and rethink their process from the customers point of view.   A better question to start from would be, “How can I make doing business with me the most entertaining, fun, easy process for my customer that I can provide?”

If you lead with that question,  you’re going to make decisions based on your customer and the service you and your employees give them. You can and should always implement new processes that will make it easier for your company and your employees to serve the customer, but it needs to be a customer centric philosophy that leads your business.