What’s the surest indicator of a company’s strength? A strong bottom line? Perhaps; but many startups begin in the red and remain there over time. Are they any less strong for operating at a loss? Apparently not, since many are acquired for hundreds of millions of dollars precisely in that condition. Is it a robust team of employees? In fact, many of the strongest industry performers are surprisingly understaffed. Is it perhaps then a deep pool of skill and intelligence? Could be, but most successful companies never truly reach the fullness of their staff’s potential.
What is it then that makes a company strong in the eyes of its industry, customers, and markets? At Brenner Photo, we believe customer responsiveness is the number one sign of a company’s true strength — the willingness, ability, and accuracy with which a company anticipates, meets, and exceeds its customers’ diverse needs day after day.
It’s like the old adage: Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today. In business, it’s don’t put off for later what you can do right now — particularly if the request is coming from a customer; especially, a prospective customer. Nothing reflects better on a company than a quick answer to a question or a swift solution to a problem. It says a number of things about the organization that the customer will notice and appreciate. Let’s take a look at the most important few.
First, it shows respect. Stopping whatever one is doing to handle a customer issue, however large or small, simple or complex, says to the customer that they are considered a priority by the organization and that their business is highly valued.
Second, it says the company puts a premium on service — not just in a pithy mission statement elegantly framed on the wall, but as part of daily practice. Countless studies show that lackluster service is the number one reason for customer churn; not price.
Thirdly, it demonstrates competence. Customers understand that things can go wrong in business. They “get” the concept of a speed bump or an outright obstacle that impedes progress, and most are flexible and forgiving in their approach to non-critical issues. But what customers won’t forgive (and should never have to) is procrastination in response. They need to see and feel that “all hands are on deck.” When they are reassured by this competence on a consistent basis, then the two most important benefits of all can grow, sealing the customer/vendor relationship: confidence and trust.
Granted, this may all sound very basic. And as a business principle, there’s really nothing new here. But what makes this all essential to the core is when companies transform the concept of customer responsiveness into a daily corporate culture. When they invest the time, attention, and resources it takes to be responsive in every encounter — creating confidence, instilling trust, and building strength.
Want a real mission this year? Elevate customer responsiveness from principle to practice, and watch your organization leap forward in 2015 and beyond.