At a recent networking event the audience of consultants and small business owners were asked about who was their customer?
There was a mixed response to the question with people mainly identifying those people that bought their products of services.
Some of those present then went on to say why they had customers and what their value proposition was to their customers.
There is a huge field of information on ‘voice of the customer’ for supply chain optimisation, on extending services to the buyer/seller relationships by adding layers of value. The 21 Customer Burdens (of Uncertainty) features on building trust with your customer whilst another approach advocates that you ‘put yourself in their shoes’: Click HERE to view a great article by Marketing Donut
A whole science on defining what you provide, what you should offer and the best way to achieve new customers whilst retaining established buying relationships.
But for me the value that companies offer to customers is only one strand of a very important principal. Everyone who told their story that evening only recognised their customers as forward facing, the buyers of their particular product. A purely two dimensional equation that misses a very important dimension. Who exactly is the customer? I can tell you it definitely isn’t just the person who buys the product or service.
To be successful a company needs to think of its stakeholders, competitors and staff as customers. Think three dimensional.
Those important people who sell your products or services will not sell with conviction or passion unless they understand the benefits and values of your offer. The way that you lead your company, the ethics you bring to the workplace, the emotional intelligence you use to get the best out your staff can make a real difference to growth aspirations. They are the talent within; their buy in is just as important as that existing customer or the new one you are targeting. They need to feel as valued as your buyer.
Stakeholders and your competitors are just important. How we work and our professionalism is on show at all times when you are in business, in working time or not. People will only recommend you if they see the value of your product or service, the value of your character, the value of your reputation. These important people become ambassadors and advocates of your company, a real value to your client acquisition plans.
A good marketing or business development plan should include each and every customer you have – whether you meet that person every day, in work or out of it, in this country or out. Total Customer maintenance and appreciation must be the way forward.