Open After 5:00

Ever stop by a business at the end of the day, only to find that they’re closed?  Or skipped lunch to do something because that business closes at 5?  Of course you have.  Probably more than once.

Here’s the irony.  If you went to the websites for those businesses, they all talk about great service and putting the customer first.  Except that they’re not.

Now think about your own company.  Is it really designed with the customer in mind?  Think about everything.  Your hours.  Locations.  Products or services.  Processes.  Purchase options.

Chances are, most of those decisions were based on what was most convenient or most profitable for your company rather than your customers.  But those decisions, while they seem smart in the short term, actually hurt you over time.

When you create something for the convenience of customers first, something both predictable and profitable happens.  You get more customers.  And those customers do more business with you, because you’ve made it easy.  They talk you up more, too.

Take something as simple as your website.  Was yours designed to tell visitors everything you want them to know?  Or was it built to give them the shortest possible path to purchase — or the easiest access to existing and new accounts?

This is marketing at its most fundamental.  And it represents a huge opportunity.  Why?  Because if you’re not doing it right, there’s a good chance your competition isn’t either.

Try this.  Imagine you’re starting your company from scratch today.  Put the customer at the front of every single decision you make.  What would look different?  Products?  Processes?  Delivery channels?  What is the smallest possible number of steps between interest and purchase, or between call and service?  Make a list.

If you were really serious, how many of those changes could you put in place today?  How many could you phase in over the coming year?  And how much fun could you have telling your customers — and your competitors’ customers — about it all?

Now imagine one more thing.  What if you did this instead of strategic planning this year?  Is it possible that this could have a game-changing impact on your company?  (Here’s a hint: the answer is “yes.”)

You can continue to make customers dance to your tune, and hope no one comes along like Amazon did to change everything.  Or you can start to insulate yourself right now by adopting the customer’s point of view, and become the change your customers crave — and your competition fears.