Be the Customer
I love this quote by Milena Glimbovski:
“Be your own best customer.”
Let’s talk about reverse engineering your business. Typically you come up with a product or service first and then build the business around that.
Instead let’s think about the customer in every business process.
Example 1. A Home Contracting Business
When I started my home contracting business and developed the core value proposition for the customer, I started with the following:
- When you call us, you will speak to a live, knowledgeable Person. What I realized is people didn’t want to get a voicemail, a phone service, or somebody who just didn’t know anything.
- We send somebody to give you a free estimate. This person would be knowledgeable, with a minimum of 10 years experience, and you would get a written estimate immediately within 24 hours.
- We send employees, not contractors, to your home to work until completion. A lot of contract companies use subcontractors, who show up to perform the work inconsistently. Because they’re subcontractors, they’re liable to take shortcuts as they’re being paid less to perform the work.
- We survey you at the end and make sure that we met your expectations.
This is our customer-centric approach that has made millions and millions dollars, we’ve added several more divisions, and it’s grown ever since.
Example 2. A Direct Mail Magazine
I started another business even even before this. A direct mail magazine with coupons in it. I approached it from a customer standpoint but in a unique way as somebody who would be receiving it in the mail and then as well as a business owner.
I’m going to tell you about the business and see if you can pick up on what made it sodifferent. The magazine still exists today, run by the individual I sold the business to.
So why was it so durable?
- It was a 8.5in x 11in and I didn’t use that thin sheet paper. It was heavy, high gloss paper.
- We put kids on the cover because usually a female receives the mail first and you’re not likely to throw away something with a cute kid on the cover. It gives it shelf-life. No products on the cover by themselves. No coupons on the front.
- We didn’t print redundant ads throughout the magazine. It wasn’t just a buffet of ads. There were valuable content sections between the ads and coupons.
- I did not want it to go to apartments. Most people that would be living in an apartment would not want to buy home service products.
- I would not have competing ads. Domino’s could take the entire pizza delivery section of the magazine as long as they bought both ad spaces.
It was home run 20 years ago and is still doing well because I started it from a customer-centric approach. I reverse engineered the product and the services from the customer standpoint and I think you’d be wise to do the same.
So how would this work if you start a business from the customer’s perspective?
- Does this fill a need?
- Is it high quality?
- Is the price reflective of what I’m getting
- Does it have multiple uses?
- Has it overcome my skepticism?
As you start your business or if you want to improve your business, stop thinking like the owner for a while and start thinking like the customer. Run all your decisions through the lens of a customer and I guarantee you, your business will only improve.
The customer’s experience needs to guide you.