How to Build a Business Around the Customer

by Darwin on October 24, 2021

It’s tempting to build your entire business around a central idea, like a product that defines your business or a governing philosophy. But while this approach can conceivably work, your chances of success are much higher if you build a business around a target customer.

What exactly does it mean to build a business around a customer? And how can you do it effectively?

The Benefits of Focusing on the Customer

Let’s start by covering the benefits of building your entire business around a customer, rather than building it around some other element.

Your customers are the ones buying your products and services. They’re the ones supplying your company with revenue. If your customers aren’t happy, they’re not going to buy from you, period. This makes them both indispensable and the most powerful influential force in your business.

Think of it this way. If you have a mediocre product, but your customers are happy, they’re probably going to keep buying your product. If you have an amazing product, but your customers are unhappy, your customers probably won’t keep buying from you. 

Now obviously, there’s a bit of synergy and mutual influence at play in the real world; product quality is part of what makes customers happy. But this example shows that no matter what else your business has to offer, your customer satisfaction is the most important variable.

Accordingly, building your business around your customers should grant you:

  •         Higher revenue. Customers will be more likely to buy from you, and more likely to increase the size of their orders.
  •         Higher customer retention. Your existing customers will be more likely to stay with you, rather than switching to a competitor.
  •         More referrals. Happy customers and brand evangelists will go out of their way to refer you to other customers, helping your business grow.
  •         A better overall reputation. Treating customers well will improve your brand image, helping you grow in other ways.

How to Build a Business Around Customers

So what can you do to put your customers at the center of your business?

  •         Choose the right target audience. Everything starts with choosing the right target audience for your brand. There are many different audience segments and target demographics you could potentially work with, but not all of them will be equally valuable. Use product market fit surveys and other sources of information to gather evidence and make your choice.
  •         Do your research. Once you’ve chosen a target audience for your business, it’s your responsibility to learn as much as you can about them. Dive into your market research and figure out your audience’s philosophies, backgrounds, and values. The better you understand them, the better you’ll be able to target them, communicate with them, and serve them in the future.
  •         Invest in product quality. It’s important to give your customers the best possible product for their needs. That means you have to make an effort to understand what your customers want in your product, then be willing to invest in improving those elements. Do they want better materials? Higher longevity? A lower price? Greater convenience? Each niche audience segment will want something different, so invest in what your customers want, specifically.
  •         Create a robust customer service department. It should go without saying that customer service is critical for building a business around your customers. Make sure you hire and efficiently train the best customer service reps you can – and provide your customers will knowledge bases and self-service tools to make their experience better.
  •         Make up for bad experiences. Some of your customers will have bad experiences with your brand, whether it’s a disappointing conversation or an unmet promise. What’s important is that you make an effort to make up for those bad experiences. Sometimes, an apology and a refund is all it takes to repair a soured customer relationship.
  •         Get direct feedback. Get direct feedback from your customers early and often. Use surveys and conversations to get a feel for what your customers really think about your products and services – and be prepared to use that data to improve.
  •         Be adaptable. Finally, be adaptable. You’re not going to create the perfect product or perfect customer experience on the first try. Gather data, brainstorm new possibilities, and keep adjusting your approach as you get closer and closer to serving all your customers’ needs.

If you can build your business around your customers, rather than trying to shoehorn customers into your business, you’ll be much more successful in the long run. Your customers will be happier, you’ll enjoy a better reputation, and you’ll end up making more money. It all starts with the right philosophy – and a commitment to giving your customers everything they need. 

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