I told my dad with all my newly-minted MBA indignation, “This is rubbish! This guy needs to know that the customer is king!” My dad replied, “Whoever can make you wait in line is king.” – Chandan Joshi , global business executive and strategy consultant
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Markets thrive on the ‘customer is king’ philosophy. It is the customer who decides what product will run in the market and what won’t. In the age of startups, it is seen that brands build their image taking clues from what customers want instead of what they can give the latter. Many such startups continue with the trend until it gets saturated before the following startups move to something new and fancy.
In this rush they end up ignoring the fact that there are other factors that are important for a brand to survive in the market. They ignore the fact that instead of making something the customer wants, they can also go for something new and make the customer want it. Those who crack this quote become the trendsetters. It is important to be aware of the customer’s opinion, but one should always consider the fact that customers are not always right. As Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted they would have asked for a faster horse.”
Focus on a customer oriented business
There are a number of factors to consider before coming up with an idea for a startup. For a new player in the market, it is important to come with an idea for customer-oriented business, instead of customer-led business. When a business is customer-oriented, it keeps you informed on what your customer base is inclined upon and helps you redesign your strategy from time to time. When the business customer-led, they end up taking your product for granted causing a huge harm to your company’s growth in future.
Instead of fulfilling demand, create demand
Take travel companies for example, there are a number of startups that keep coming up every year without any innovation. On the other hand, travel startups like Tripoto thrive on uniqueness. Instead of chasing what is already hot in the market, they innovate and sell new ideas. They create demand out of nothing and market and promote their idea until customers gradually realise that this is something they need to have.
Get your business model right
For any startup, a bad business model can lead to the loss millions and billions. It is important to come up with the right kind of business model that will help your company to grow and flourish in the long run. Targeting the right customer base is not enough, making them realise that they need to use your product is also important.
Encourage your customers to buy your product
What Forbes calls a ‘freemium business model’ is actually an essential for every startup. Initially, the product is so cheap that it makes the customer feel that they are almost buying it for free. Slowly when the demand increases, the product starts showing profitability in the market. A business model like this makes the customer run after the product instead of running after what customer actually wants.
Continuous market research
Market research metrics come very handy for startups. KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and marketing metrics help entrepreneurs understand the market sentiment. At the same time, they also notify how the market is going to turn out in the near future. Intelligent entrepreneurs use this tactic to prepare for the change and design their strategy according to the trend.
Business is all about understanding the difference between what the customer wants and what they need. Change and innovation are the keys to success. The more is your adaptability the better you’ll thrive and succeed in the market.
There’s a reason why the common saying the customer is always right. Of course logically the adage holds no water because the customer is, in fact, sometimes (even often) wrong. But the customer can never be made to feel wrong.
1. Wrong = negative
When trying to make a sale, a salesperson tries as hard as possible to get the customer to say “yes” as many times as possible and to keep the conversation as agreeable as possible. He, the salesperson agrees to everything – even when he disagrees! For example:
Client: so, if I were to buy 2 of these instead of one you can give me a 40% discount on one, right?
Seller: why that’s a great idea! But tell you what – I need to be in business tomorrow so I can bring you some more wonderful things so let me give you the very best offer of 10% off if you pick both.
The point is, the conversation stayed positive even though the customer made an unreasonable demand. No = no sale; yes = sale!
2. Customer has options!
In the 21st Century, regardless of what one’s business is, there is a lot of competition. Even worse is that unlike a few years back, when the competition was down the street, nowadays the competition is halfway across the globe – and often they barely speak english!
Because of all of the options that a customer has, a supplier cannot afford to be arrogant or aloof – even when dealing with an unreasonable customer.
3. The customer has influence.
Research has shown that a lot of people depend on word of mouth when making decisions on which supplier to use. Despite the fact that advertising has proliferated every aspect of our lives – TV, Radio, online, billboards etc, we take the word and endorsement of someone we have met much more. Its a question of trust.
As a seller treats the customer as king, the customer is disposed to brag about the wonderful experience they had to their friends, many of whom take the endorsement seriously.
The nature of the relationship is not one of equals. The seller/ supplier is a servant of the buyer. The most successful businesspeople are those who realise that early and no matter how successful they get, never forget this.