This year marks the 30th anniversary of SRB Communications. In honor of this accomplishment, our blog series, Lessons Learned, will highlight five key lessons that founder and CEO, Dr. Sheila Brooks learned during 30 years as an entrepreneur. This week we offer Lesson #4, Customer First Mindset. If you missed Lesson #1, Pivot the Business, #2 – Obtaining a Bank Loan, or #3 – Writing a Growth Business Plan, click the links.
We’ve all heard it before, “the customer comes first,” “the customer is always right,” and several other cliché sayings that circulate in the business world. So, what are these quotes trying to tell us? From my 30 years in business, I’ve learned that these sayings are correct; it’s about achieving a “customer-first mindset”. Simply put, it’s part of your company’s cultural strategy.
Let’s level set this thinking. First, as a business owner, it’s important to show your employees the value that they bring to your company. They are the ones who are working with customers day to day. So, they must be empowered to make decisions and service customers in meaningful ways. Ask yourself, “Are my customer’s needs being met and do we not only meet, but exceed their expectations?” Here are some thoughts:
- When the marketplace changes, be ready to share innovative and creative ideas with customers. For instance, what did you do to pivot during the COVID-19 pandemic? Customers want to hear your thinking on how to improve the work you’re doing for them to better reflect the current environment. Adopting the customer-first mindset is also about sharing new insights, listening and paying attention to their immediate needs.
- Keep the communication lines open. Always make it easy for customers to interact with your team. Your employees should also be prepared to report back to the rest of the team on their progress, opportunities and challenges. Sharing knowledge is key to boost transparency and engage your employees more.
- Stay attuned to your customer’s strategy, their attitudes, industry standards, and business environments. Every customer interaction that you have is an opportunity for you or your employees to get feedback on your services.
As the CEO of a 30-year-old business, it’s important that I lead the charge and closely listen to our customer feedback. But I also instill in my team so that we are always putting our customers first. By doing so, we get to know them better and understand their needs and expectations. It helps us to understand not only what is happening with them now, but what is going to be required of us in the future.
If you grow with your customers your business will grow. The moment you get complacent is the moment you’ve failed your customers. Remember, your work is never done. Serve your clients or die tryin’.