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Do You Care About Your Customers? Customer Centric Approach

Customer Centric Approach

Customer Centric Approach

Do you actually care about your customers?

Allow me to rephrase: Do you care about your visitors?

Online or offline business, you will certainly have visitors, right?

And all those visitors are potential customers, right?

Now, do you care about those people?

Yes or No? Why?

I am not much of a small business owner, but I do manage a blog, and I have seen how people react to businesses – good or bad. In this blog post, I would like to remind you of the key areas of your business: Customer centric approach, attitude, use of incentives and the importance of keeping your customers happy.

Let me start off with a great example:

In 2008, several places in Mumbai, India were attacked by terrorists. One of those places was the Taj Mahal Hotel.

On the particular day, the Taj Mahal hotel had several occupants. Many of the occupants were saved. But, thirty-one people died. Out of the 31, 11 were hotel employees who worked hard to get their customers out of the hotel.

Now, no one urged the hotel staff to save those customers; they could have easily escaped and saved themselves. But, they didn’t. They helped those customers.

Customer Centric Approach

That is what I call a customer centric approach. (I also heard that Harvard Business school is studying this approach).

Now, I am not telling you to place your customers’ lives over yours. Not at all.

I am suggesting you keep a customer centric approach in your business.

Stop worrying about the silly numbers – Profits, losses.

Of course, you need to take care of them, but you don’t have to worry about them.

Start caring about your customers.

Provide the best service and value to them.

Not just to them, but also to your potential customers.

Impress your potential customers with your hospitality and experience
and you can convert them into loyal customers of your business.

I am sure that most of you guys have read all sorts of tips about improving your business.

Little Things Matter – Customer Centric Approach

Everything matters.

But, more than everything, the small things matter.
Most times, the small things in your business are
the ones that make the biggest impact.

Let me give you an example:

Imagine yourself in a hotel. What do you hate about it?

Some hotels are just pricey. Some are just dirty – even with a high price.

For some, the TV remotes don’t work.

Or the fan.

Or the Wi-fi.

Or maybe the electric socket is broken.

Maybe the windows don’t open.

Or maybe the sofas or chairs are too dirty.

Or the tables.

Little things.

That reminds me about a recent experience I had. I had bought a basketball set and it took me (and my Dad) over 3-4 hours to put it all up.

I think we could have saved a lot more time if they had a video CD along with the set on how to assemble it. (Diagrams alone are confusing.)

Several times, we had to redo stuff because it wasn’t the right screw or we assembled it incorrectly. I would have had a much better experience if they had included an instructional video (and I am sure that I am not the only one who wished for a video).

Like I mentioned earlier, little things matter.

A lot of people care about those little things.
Take care of them and I am sure that you are
going to make an impression upon your customers.

Another important thing to remember is attitude – yours, your employees’ and your customers’.

Let’s get back to the hotel example:

Lots of people don’t like noisy neighbors in hotels – or noisy employees.

As for employees, you can easily take care of them (because you are the owner).

And as for customers, it is a bit harder.

Offer Incentives

You need to try an approach that doesn’t hurt both parties. The best way to go is ask the noisy neighbor if they are willing to “stop the noise” or if they are willing to relocate to another room. (Repeat this step with the other person who complained about the noise.) If either option fails to work, offer incentives. Maybe a free breakfast or dinner to the person who is willing to relocate. (Small incentives can go a long way to resolving tough issues.)

Use positive reinforcement when dealing with your customers.
Offer incentives – this way, you could keep everyone happy
by giving something small in to the customer.

Now, this is just one example.

The same concept of customer centric approach, little things, attitude and incentives can applied to other businesses – small or large.

Let’s take an example of a mobile phone shop. The problem with most of these shops today is that you freaking have to spend an hour or so to pick / buy your phone or repair your existing one.

I would have been very grateful if these stores had sofas and TVs in them – so that I could spend my time doing something while waiting for them to get my phone fixed.

Now, for a small business owner, sofas might not be an affordable option.  (We always have to think about affordability - too expensive and too cheap, both of them sucks either for you or for your customers.)

For online business owners, the same thing goes.

Offer small incentives – like demo service, free quotes or something along those lines to impress your customers. (When it comes to online, you also need to worry about website design, font, user friendliness and other kind of stuff – always remember: Little things matter).

Let me give you an example with my own blog:

A few months back, I was experimenting with my design and I had the idea to remove sidebars from my post pages. I realized that I could have all my sidebar essentials (subscribe box and share buttons) within the post itself and minimize the distractions to the reader. The result?

I got positive response from my readers (although my results got skewed because this was around the same time I used images in my posts. I got a lot of junk traffic that increased my bounce rate and decreased by visitor time.)

Like I said earlier, small things make a big impact.

In the online world, you could ask several testers (there are services which allow you to test your website – like Usertesting.com). Just give them some questions to answer about their experience (the answers can help you to identify the small things).

Conclusion?

I don’t have much to say (I think I have said everything I have to say about customer experience and customer centric approach.)

If you have any wild thoughts, insights, criticisms or praises, just leave me a comment and let me know!

And, if you will, just share it to the world. (After all, this is a contest, and your comments and shares do certainly count towards my winning :D).

Thank you!

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    { 17 comments… add one }

    • Sylviane Nuccio June 16, 2012, 5:01 pm

      Hi Jeevan,

      Am I the first one here? Is this your new blog look? I like it!

      You are so right, as I was reading your post I was thinking about how maybe getting ideas to fix little problems and missing links that annoys the customers so much could get you rich! Hey that has happened.

      Some time what’s missing is simply some common sense. What annoys me the most in American hotels, by the way, is that in summer time while it’s 90 degrees outside you enter in a room that’s probably about 60 degrees and I think that it’s totally stupid and such a waste of energy. Ahahh I thought I could finally say that publicly, since your post reminded of that.

      Thanks for this great post, Jeevan
      Sylviane Nuccio recently posted..3,007 Word Interview With Writer And Entrepreneur Carol LynnMy Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John June 19, 2012, 10:14 am

        Hey Sylviane,

        Oh, no, this is just my guest post for the contest, Sylviane :)

        I am glad you agree. Yeah, there are so many little problems (most of the times, we may not realize it, because we “overvalue” our business and we have high expectations for it) that we could fix and indirectly could help us to get more sales for our blog/business.

        Yeah, I can relate back to – not that hotels, but some private business buildings too, like small time stores etc.

        No problem. Appreciate you stopping by, Sylviane!

      • Holly Jahangiri July 20, 2012, 4:40 pm

        Excellent advice, Jeevan. I think that when businesses stop caring about their customers, and focus primarily on the bottom line, it sets up the potential for an adversarial relationship – rather than one that cements customer loyalty.

        In other words, if I’m your customer and I don’t think you care about ME, or my needs, or my personal bottom line – if I think maybe you’re trying, somehow, to cheat me or manipulate or USE me – then why should I care about you, your products, or your brand – unless I think I can do the same? (Maybe I’ll just steal the towels from your precious hotel. After all, there was some kind of sticky crud on the phone in my room, and eww…you OWE me something!!) I think people do this in all sorts of relationships, so why should we think business is different?

        • Jeevan Jacob John July 21, 2012, 11:48 am

          Thanks Holly!

          Yes, I agree. They might not have meant to foster a bad relationship, but if they stop caring, the relationship will automatically deteriorate (It’s just like those life relationships: If we stop caring about our significant other for instance, over time, the relationship will break off).

          Yes, yes. There is a grey area there too – Like in relationships, we should show them that we care – we can’t just care. For hotel owners, they need to show (we customers need to perceive or understand) that they care about us (Things can also get out of hand, if we don’t show “it”).

          Hahaha…yes, stealing those towels (I have had the feeling to do that, but I never did, I just got the only thing that was good there – the soap and maybe the small shampoos and conditioners. My room isn’t clean – if the hotel owner really cares about me, he should show it, by telling his workers to really clean the rooms. So, I take “things” – like a sweet revenge maybe?

          Yeah, it is just common. As humans, we want others to show us that they actually care – through their behavior, gifts etc (but of course, there are real relationships in which we know that the other person actually cares).

          Thank you for the awesome comment, Holly! Appreciate you stopping by!

    • Adrienne June 19, 2012, 11:59 am

      Excellent post Jeevan and I couldn’t agree with you more. If you treat me right when I come into your store, you’ve got a customer for life. I kid you not.

      When I was in the corporate world and dealt with vendors, if they treated me right you couldn’t steer me away. Customer service to me should always be # 1. If you take care of your customers and treat them right they will continue to buy from you. Give them an incentive every once in awhile for always shopping at your store.

      That’s horrible about the hotel attack, I had no idea. But that was very brave of those employees to care about their customers first. That itself shows how one company has gone above and beyond to provide excellent services. Even in such a horrible situation.

      Good luck with your contest and you did a whole post here Jeevan.

      ~Adrienne
      Adrienne recently posted..How to Build a Rock Star BrandMy Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John June 20, 2012, 5:56 pm

        Hey Adrienne,

        :D

        Of course, but many stores today forget the value of customer service and just focuses on getting more profits.

        Yeah, those employees did great work, saving others’ lives by risking their own. They didn’t have to do it, but they did – and we should appreciate that.

        Thank you, Adrienne :)

        I appreciate your support!

    • Ashvini June 20, 2012, 8:50 am

      Hey Jeevan,

      I really enjoyed reading your post. It teaches so many things. I am a loyal customer of Taj and I am inspired by their employees. They never let up their service and always do extra. When travelling on vacation my choice is Taj if I have the budget. They are perfect examples of customer service.
      It is often not easy to get out of tricky service issues but with a little innovative approach any problem can be solved. You have listed down some good ones. :)
      Ashvini recently posted..20 ways to become a remarkable person in lifeMy Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John June 20, 2012, 5:57 pm

        I should really stop by Taj when I come to Mumbai (And I will, in the future :D). They are a great example. I mean, risking your life for someone who you don’t know, now that’s real hospitality.

    • Abhi Balani June 20, 2012, 9:03 am

      Hello Jeevan!

      I agree with all your tips. And I loved when you said, “Stop worry about silly numbers”. It’s absolutely right. We need to take care of that but don’t need to worry about it.

      Well, I did a button dance a minute ago to let my friends read what tips you have written.
      Abhi Balani recently posted..How did I win my first 3 blogging contest back to back? – Contest EntryMy Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John June 20, 2012, 5:59 pm

        Glad you agree, Abhi :)

        Yes, when we stop worrying about them, we are able to focus all our energy into something we want to achieve and we are able to achieve it.

        Thank you for the comment!

    • Cat Alexandra from Internet Marketing Success June 23, 2012, 9:01 pm

      Dear Jeevan,

      Bravo, this was so well thought out and executed!

      I am in full agreement with you that a customer-centric approach is one way to improve longterm business success trajectory! I have been paying close attention to how businesses react to things like customer complaints and service requests lately because I have noticed such a dichotomy in the home based business industry which I operate in.

      The story shared about the Taj Mahal Hotel was such a telling story! Wow! I’m so sad to hear about all those who lost their lives due to the attack! That is just so horrible…but it’s so interesting to know just how committed to customer service those 11 employees were. I know that’s an extreme example of customer service right there, but can you imagine how it would be if companies took even a quarter of that seriousness and brought that level of value?

      Thanks for such a compelling and helpful guide for us, Jeevan. I think you did a simply outstanding job on this guest blogging contest. You get my vote!!

      Highest regards,
      Cat Alexandra :-)
      Cat Alexandra recently posted..Seacret Direct: Retail to MLM Dream Come True (A Seacret Direct Review)My Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John June 25, 2012, 11:33 am

        Hey Cat,

        I am glad you agree :D

        Yeah, it is tragic and interesting at the same time (I guess, that’s why Hardvard Business school decided to study it). Yup, businesses would be much more profitable, employees and customer will be much more happier in the long term.

        Thank you, Cat! Appreciate your support.
        Jeevan Jacob John recently posted..Why You Shouldn’t Guest Post Here?My Profile

    • Sonia July 19, 2012, 8:09 pm

      Excellent post Jeevan. You hit me when you said, that customers appreciate the “small details”. That’s me in a nut shell. I travel on the road all the time and end up at hotels or campgrounds that don’t always look their best, but it’s how I am treated that makes me overlook the worst. I will pay more money if a business treats me like gold. I have a client right now that I am helping for FREE because at the end of the day it’s what they tell others that I value the most.

      Years ago I saw a work documentary called, “Give em a pickle” and the speaker went on about how when things go wrong, that businesses have an excellent opportunity to make things right and make them a customer for life. Now the downside to this is that they will only tell a few about your good service, but if you do them wrong, they will tell THOUSANDS about how horrible your service was.

      People want to know you have their “feelings” as your best “interest” and nothing more.
      Sonia recently posted..Smart Tips to Effectively Manage Your Wasted Time OnlineMy Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John July 21, 2012, 11:38 am

        Thank you Sonia!

        Same here, Sonia. I will be willing to pay more if they treated me well. Yes, those recommendations can work like magic and gain us even more customers with trust and loyalty placed upon us (generally, they will have trust upon us, because someone whom they trusted referred us to them).

        Of course. But, I think it is worth the effort (It is way better than being recommended or referred as a bad business to thousands of people). As humans, we have the tendency of remembering bad things for a long time (With acute details) and good things for not so long time.

        Thank you for your awesome comment, Sonia! Appreciate you stopping by and supporting me!
        Jeevan Jacob John recently posted..Do You Need Tools in Business Blogging?My Profile

    • Hajra July 20, 2012, 11:18 am

      Hello Jeevan

      I loved your post and the example that it carries along with it. I did read about the reaction of the employees and how they risked their lives to save that of their customers. It takes more than just good service to do that. Going beyond the written instructions and just what is taught in books takes that effort.

      I remember once I was on this trip to a very cold place and I mentioned to my friend how my feet are very cold and just refuse to warm up. The hotel staff might have over heard me and the next morning I get a warm feet socks with my name on it! That made my entire trip so memorable.

      Good Luck with the contest! :)
      Hajra recently posted..The Laziest Blogger EverMy Profile

      • Jeevan Jacob John July 21, 2012, 11:54 am

        Hey Hajra,

        Glad you liked it! Of course, I agree. I am sure that their business (Taj Hotel) didn’t ask their employees to sacrifice their lives. But, their actions will always be remembered – at least by the few thousands who were saved by them.

        Now that’s one good service, Hajra ;) But, it is hard to come by. Even if the staff wanted to take care of the customers, how can they do it? Can they just ask you want you want? Or they do have to spy upon you (oh, that’s not cool, right?). How about body language and appearance – I think that works. Hotel staff should equip themselves with the power of body language – read those expressions and serve the customer accordingly.

        Thank you for stopping by and adding a comment, Hajra! Appreciate it!

    • Ehsan Ullah August 6, 2012, 6:36 pm

      I like the example if little things matters which you gave here. You’re right on this, Not sometime but all the time little things matters a lot and we have to consider those things.
      Ehsan Ullah recently posted..10 Awesome Tips To Choose a Good Domain NameMy Profile

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