In this article, we’re going to take it back to basics and talk about the importance of keeping your promises, whether they’re related to your customers, your suppliers, or your staff members. We’re probably guilty of throwing around a lot of high-level concepts here on the blog, which is no doubt important, but sometimes we’ve got to slow it all down for a minute and make sure we’ve got the basics covered.
As you no doubt already realise, the past six-months have been extremely testing for organisations globally. No company, regardless of their size or resilience has come through the pandemic without serious battle scars. That’s why, I believe, it’s important to go back to basics and look at what we can improve from the ground-up, which will inform higher-order changes in your organisation as you move into the future.
A key part of minimising the damage of something like a pandemic, or smaller-sized issue in your operations or supply chain is to ensure that every single decision you make keeps the customer as the top priority, and ensures that every change made at the very least maintains, and ideally improves upon the promises you’re making to your customers.
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“Ensure that every single decision you make keeps the customer as the top priority.” Kobi Simmat
Integry can go an extremely long way in the world of modern business, so don’t dismiss the importance of maintaining and improving upon the promises you’re making to current and prospective clients.
Something interesting I stumbled upon recently was a piece from Scott Deming who explains that “too many business owners treat their customers like widgets on an assembly line. They move them along, take their money, then make way for the next one,” he explains. “They reel their customers in with flashy advertising and marketing plans, and then leave them less satisfied with their overall experience.”
These points are extremely important when you consider the fact that winning over a customer and leaving them unsatisfied can be just as detrimental, if not worse for your organisation than if they had not purchased your product or obtained your services in the first place.
Dening mentions both the fact that it’s important to separate yourself from the pack, but more interestingly, he says that it’s essential to remember that your organisation is “probably not as great as you think.” While yes, it’s a confronting reality, think of it more as constructive feedback that can be used to improve your business. It’s called the ‘Lake Wobegon Effect’, which states that humans have a tendency to believe we’re better than we actually are. This isn’t a statement on overconfidence as much as it is an apt description of the dangers of complacency.
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More specifically, I think it’s healthy to go about your operations with a teaspoon of pessimism, primarily because pessimism will more likely lead to innovation and change than complacency will.
“Pessimism will more likely lead to innovation and change than complacency will.” – Kobi Simmat
Now, moving onto the purpose of this piece: maintaining – and ideally, improving upon – the promises you’re making to your customers. I know it’s basic – after all, this piece is called back to basics – but it’s worth reiterating. Any and all significant moves in your organisation should be grounded in the realisation that maintaining promises to your existing customers is a top priority. Not only does it show your customers that you’re proactively listening to their concerns, it displays a high level of commitment to the market that is just as valuable as being the cheapest offering on the market. Quite often, purchasers will forgo the cheapest option because they’ve experienced a lack of quality of commitment from the vendor, and they’re willing to pay extra if they believe a high quality product or service will come at the end of the process.
Whatever decision you’re making, be it a new internal process, a new marketing campaign, or a new product or service, make sure you’re asking your team how this will make your existing customers feel, and whether or not it’s likely to break any of your promises.
This is also where innovation ties into the equation, which I wrote about just recently. It’s important to innovate, but it’s also important to make sure that new product, service or platform has been adequately tested in-house to iron out the kinks, and ensure that the end product for the customer is something of superior quality to its predecessor or compared to competition.
Innovation is great, but if it’s coming at the expense of your existing customers, you might need to rethink your execution.
There’s no point in launching a new service if it’s not completely ready for the market, because you’ll end up with nothing but disappointment from customers, glee from your competitors, and the very real possibility of negative feedback on your organisation being spread around the business landscape.
In short, keep your customers as the top priority for decision making and your organisation’s strategic vision, and make sure things that you push out – be it a new product, website, etc – improves upon the thing it’s replacing, and provides value to your customers.
The harsh reality is that organisations that don’t, simply won’t stand the test of time. Deming sums it up like this: “You must stop looking at customers with dollar signs in your eyes and start creating relationships with then. When your customers see that you truly value them and care about the service you can provide them, they’ll be customers for life.”
Those are the same customers for life that can and will pull you through extremely tough financial times like the recent pandemic, and they’ll continue to pull you through the next period of economic uncertainty… so don’t underestimate the importance of the promises you’re making to the market.
Thanks for your time, I’ll see you in the next piece.
Kobi Simmat, Director & CEO of the Best Practice Group.