U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter (left) with Jeff Bezos (right), May 2016
Customers are never satisfied and that’s what drives a business to be better.
This is what a friend said to me at lunch recently and his words hammered home an idea I’ve been chewing on over the past few months.
In the interest of being completely transparent, we (Enable) lost 2 client accounts several months ago, and that loss stung. To be honest, they criticized accurately our responsiveness and late delivery on marketing tasks, support requests, and other account related activities.
Truthfully, though, the sting of losing them as clients may have been the best thing to happen to our business this year.
Listen and respond to feedback.
Because we took their criticisms and advice and immediately started building better systems to respond faster, deliver projects and tasks on time, and deliver all-round better communication and support to our clients.
Our clients demanded more of us.
Sure, we haven’t been perfect and our team is still daily learning how we can serve our clients better. But, we’re miles ahead of where we were a few months ago and it’s due to the fact that our clients demanded more of us.
You Can Either “Hate” Customers Or Love That They Make You Better
In nearly every industry, I’ve heard someone complain “if there just weren’t customers, the job would be great.”
A fatal flaw with this line of thinking is, of course, the fact that without customers you wouldn’t have a job in the first place.
Perhaps the greater flaw with this mentality is that it positions customers as inconvenience rather than the greatest asset towards building your business.
Taken in the right frame of mind, the expectations of customers is the main thing that keeps you and your business pushing forward, seeking better solutions and more effective systems.
In his 2017 Letter to Stakeholders, Jeff Bezos makes this point very clear:
“One thing I love about customers is that they are divinely discontent. Their expectations are never static – they go up. It’s human nature. We didn’t ascend from our hunter-gatherer days by being satisfied. People have a voracious appetite for a better way, and yesterday’s ‘wow’ quickly becomes today’s ‘ordinary’. I see that cycle of improvement happening at a faster rate than ever before. It may be because customers have such easy access to more information than ever before – in only a few seconds and with a couple taps on their phones, customers can read reviews, compare prices from multiple retailers, see whether something’s in stock, find out how fast it will ship or be available for pick-up, and more. These examples are from retail, but I sense that the same customer empowerment phenomenon is happening broadly across everything we do at Amazon and most other industries as well. You cannot rest on your laurels in this world. Customers won’t have it.”
Things Made For Your Customers Are More Loved By Your Customers
This one seems like common sense, but I think most business owners fail (including myself) to build products and services made for the true satisfaction of their customer. Instead, they often create solutions they think the customer needs as opposed to what the customer tells them they need.
This gap in delivering the customer what they actually want is often the result of collecting little to no feedback from your customers, never giving them the opportunity to share what suggestions they might have for improvement or offer insights into more effective solutions.
Jeff Bezos provides a prime example of how to listen to and truly satisfy the customer through his turnaround of the Washington Post. For years, the Post was in decline in terms of readership, financials – the whole nine yards. After acquiring the company in 2013, however, the publication has steadily improved, due mainly to Bezos’ “focus on reader’s first, not advertisers.”
Bezos runs the Washington Post similar to the way he runs Amazon, focusing on a customer-centric experience from top to bottom.
I think we can all take a lesson from the book of Jeff Bezos and,
seek every day to provide better service to our clients.
Perhaps another way of thinking of it, is that if we don’t do this, our customers will still continue to demand it and your business won’t be able to keep up with them or keep their business.
They will take their business to someone else who is able to meet their demands.
Jeremy is the Lead Designer & Owner of Enable. Jeremy is a small business connoisseur who helps the little guys conquer big. When he’s not designing websites or writing blogs, you’ll find him spending time with his wife and family.