Success begins with being customer-centric and attracting the right customers. When we attract the right customers we not only love doing business with them because we have common values with them, but we also open ourselves up to a lot more business as those customers will be your best salespeople. Companies should be as customer-centric as possible, noting the way of doing business will equal more profits in the long run. You can read an article I wrote in The Rising Tide of Business, titled "Center Your Business Around Your Customers and You Will Be More Profitable" to get the full rundown of my way of thinking about the customer experience.
The issue I have found a lot of people to have with being fully customer-focused is that they always struggle by feeling like they are being taken advantage of by the customer at times and it forces them back to protect themselves. My arguments are that these feelings of being taken advantage of are actually just a matter of the customer values and the companies values not lining up. To be fully customer-centric, the customers we attract must be the right customers so you can be successful. Again, when we attract the right customers we not only love doing business with them because our values are aligned, and we open ourselves up to a lot more business as they will be your best salespeople. By being customer-centric, you are naturally going to attract people without having to do any marketing or sales.
A consulting client of mine did zero advertising, yet they get new leads regularly through a website form. Everyone was pumped and the customer-centric experience they strive for was working. We soon discovered we were getting lots of leads, but not many of them were actually the right leads. These new leads had many questions, needed lots of hand-holding and if they did order, were not very satisfied as they had no clear expectation of the service, just that they heard it was AWESOME. This actually hurt the customer experience, everyone on both sides got frustrated.
To overcome this challenge, they changed who they attracted by making sure their story was clear, as well as their values and services they provided. More specifically, they shared why they were so successful and made sure the lead form explained their story in a clear and concise manner before trying to grab everyone who showed interest. Still, with no paid advertising, they were getting leads. Yes, fewer leads, but in the long term were more qualified leads that were easier to turn into customers. Bonus, they actually were getting more customers!
Start with Your Core Values
How can you attract the right customers? Start with your core values. Whether we have thought of it or not, we create our offering and services based on our core values and our “why”. The first step to setting up your business to be more customer-centric is to find the types of customers who you can happily provide the best service. Those would be people who share the same values. Be aware of what your values are in all things you do around your business, like creating the product offering, pricing, advertising, and value-added services. For example, if you are all about high-quality products, doing things right without cutting corners, being able to proudly put your name on the end product, you value quality. You need customers who also value quality. Your message, product offering, lead times value-added services should all reflect around quality.
Consistency is Key
Don't go buy blanks that are the cheapest and are never consistent. Don't set policies that you will "beat anyone's price". Don't post images of products on social media that don't scream quality. Also, if someone comes to you only worried about getting your best price, stick to your guns on the pricing you charge, the lead times you need, and be clear that quality is your value. If they decided to become your customers still after that then they either had a chance of heart or realized the quality was more important than price. This will allow you to provide the best customer service as you are passionate about the same values.
Make the changes that are needed and be strict about making sure that every outgoing message (marketing and otherwise) matches up with those ingredients. For example, if you don't like selling mugs, then don't let anyone "accidentally" or otherwise post on your social media about the mugs you made. Update your showroom to only show the projects you love making. No matter how cool that one show off piece was, don't display it if you don't love doing it to make money in the process. Adjust your prices to make the project you don't love as much be more profitable so when you do have to say yes you made enough money on it to feel okay with what comes along with saying yes.
Who is Your Customer?
After you have done all of the work to make sure your company fully aligns with its values in everything it says and does, now it is time to attract the right customers. Since you now have a clear picture of what you can provide, figuring out who to provide it to should be much easier. Put yourself in their shoes and think about what problems you can solve for them or needs you can fill. Be as thorough as possible with this process, noting the details about who the person is, what they need from you and how they live their life.
When I'm involved with this process, I always start by actually giving this target customer a name. By naming them, it tricks your brain into thinking about the conversations you are going to be having with this person and how you will connect to an actual person. This is always better marketing than trying to connect with a thing or a number. After naming them and getting the general demographic data down, then dive into the real goods of why they are the right customer for you. What makes them fun to work with, why would they (or do they) come to you for their needs? What about this customer makes them different than the customers who are annoying or hard to work with? What projects do you and the customer do together that’s profitable and fun?
There you have it, you have all the key ingredients to attracting the right customers for success. You know what your values are and what gets you excited about your business daily, and you also know what those "right" customers look and feel like. Take those two pieces of information and go back to your company message, product offering, marketing, and value-added services and make sure everything aligns.