There Are Two Types Of Businesses - Which One Are You?
I am convinced there are basically two styles of running a business.I'm going to speak in some extreme generalizations here, but stay with me. I know there are infinite ways to run a business and there are nuances within each of these groups, but I think you will agree with me.
Businesses are either customer first or business first.
In a customer first business you adapt and change your business based on the needs of your customer. You gather feedback on how they feel, you listen to them, and you do everything you can to accommodate them. Of course you can't do everything they want, but then you explain it, you help them understand why things are the way they are. If you can't give a good explanation on a policy, you will change it.
On the other side we have the business first organizations who act like the customer doesn't matter. There is an air about them of believing the customer should feel privileged to be paying them for their product or service. The biggest sign for me is how they talk to me as a customer. When I hire a business to do work, I expect them to be smarter at and better at it than I am. If I could do it myself I wouldn't have paid them. But it does not mean I'm completely stupid. Take plumbing for instance, I have glued PVC together before, I've soldered copper pipe together and it doesn't even leak. I am not a plumbing expert and any professional plumber is far better than I will ever be. That doesn't mean I am completely ignorant of all things plumbing, so talk to me as if I can understand. Explain to me why that plumbing repair is going to cost me a thousand dollars. Just because I don't understand doesn't mean I can't learn.
I also believe that every organization starts out being customer first. The business first group eventually shifts when they become so successful they don't have to work hard to bring in business. They have created a client base who will recommend them to others, they have enough regular customers they don't need to attract new customers. They become so busy the care they first showed to customers slowly erodes over time. They don't realize the regular customer they have had for years suddenly took their business down the street to a competitor.
A warning for all of us, no matter what you do, you have a customer. What level of focus do you put on your customer? They will always be essential to your success, make sure you never stop treating them that way.