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The Entrepreneurship and Leadership Series: Part 2
Why to Put Your Customer First
Welcome to Part 2 of the Entrepreneurship and Leadership Series. In the first post of the series, we talked about why leadership matters for the entrepreneur. In Part 2 of this multi-part series, we will discuss why you should always put your customer first and how it connects to leadership.
Read Part 1 Here: Why Does Leadership Matter for the Entrepreneur?
Read Part 3 Here: Why Self-Awareness Matters In Business
The Entrepreneurship and Leadership Series: Part 2 – Why to Put Your Customer First
Recently, a woman posted in a Facebook business group about changing direction within your business. She made a lot of excellent points including how you must run a company that you are passionate about and that your business must continue to fulfill your reasons for starting a business is you are going to be happy long-term.
At first, her post had me nodding along in 100% agreement. That is until she added one sentence to her statement. The statement was, “You owe your customers nothing.”
In my opinion, you owe your customers everything, and you always need to put your customer first to be successful.
Customers are your business
There is one moment that all small business owners remember. That is the moment when they received their first dollar in revenue. While it might be quite some time until they turn a profit, that first sale is a significant event. It shows product viability, that people want to pay for the product or service, and indicates there is a chance for success.
Without customers, a business is just a money-draining hobby. You need customers to have a business, and this is why you always need to put your customer first.
To be successful, you must consider your customer with every client impacting decision you make within your business. Otherwise, you will run the risk of not having enough customers to meet your company’s minimum needs.
You can still change
Now, this does not mean that you cannot make changes to your business. You can, and often should make changes within your company – some micro and others big, sweeping changes depending on the circumstances.
There are so many reasons that can contribute to why change is a good thing. Some changes allow you as a business owner to stay passionate and involved in your business, while other changes will allow for your business to continue to compete in the evolving marketplace.
Putting your customer first does not limit your ability to go down a new path or try something different. It means you need to guide your customer and consider their reaction during the adjustment period.
The truth is, not all customers will be open to the changes you make and stay a part of your business. However, strong leadership will help bring the majority along. Also, with strong leadership, those that do not decide to continue to do business with you are more likely to leave on a pleasant note than with anger or a feeling of betrayal.
How to put your customer first during change
The number one way to put your customer first when you are changing something big within your business is to communicate. This does not mean you only tell your customers what is changing. It means you do what almost feels like overcommunicating – you share everything you can.
You do this by preparing your customer for the change, telling them what the difference is, why you are making the move, and most importantly, why the change is beneficial to them.
The more you communicate, the more likely you are to have your customers support your adjusting business.
How leadership plays a part in putting the customer first
As a small business owner, your role is to make sure your clients always feel like they are first. This is done through effective communication and proper change management; two of the most critical leadership skills you can have.
When communicating with a customer, your words, body language, and tone should always make them feel like they are the most important aspect of your business. You create a perception that your business is about them and your communication helps them understand why need your products, services, or the change. When customers see how they will benefit, they are more likely to accept what is being presented.
Being able to keep customers happy by guiding them with your communication methods is leadership, and helps the customer feel like they are first even when you are making decisions based on what is best for you.
When the customer is not put first
When you do not put the customer first, you are hurting your business. When businesses are not customer focused, the customer can start to feel alienated. Alienated customers do not stay clients for long.
In addition, when customers leave because of how they feel based on treatment, they are likely to spread the word. When you are a small business, a reputation of “they do not care about the customer” can do insurmountable damage.
Referrals are the lifeline of many small businesses. However, they are not often received when you do not put the customer first.
The businesses that are sustainable, scalable, and profitable in the long run are those that prove that they care about the customer day-in and day-out.
Be the leader your customers need
In your business, make the decisions you need to in order to stay profitable and happy. However, as your company’s leader, do not forget to keep your customer top of mind when making these changes and properly guide them to what is new.
Your customers need you to make them feel that they are always first on your list. Be the leader your customers need so they feel heard, important, and a pivotal part of your company.
Read Part 1: Why Does Leadership Matter for the Entrepreneur?
Read Part 3 Here: Why Self-Awareness Matters In Business