“There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”—Sam Walton
I love this quote. It captures the essence of business. This simple paragraph reminds every business owner that the fiercest competitor any company will ever face is a customer’s choice. But how can a company breed loyalty in a competitive market where the customer has so many options? The solution of course is to consistently provide customers with value. When a company provides its customers with real value, on a consistent basis, that company will generate the kind of passion and loyalty in its customers that will keep customers coming back.
For some businesses, providing value means keeping prices low. That is, of course, a significant part of the value formula for a company like Walmart. While value pricing is a tempting strategy for any company (and particularly a start-up company grasping for market share), caution must be taken to build loyalty to the company and its brand and not just to its price. Even if special pricing (discounts, introductory offers, sales) are used to initially attract customers, long-term customer loyalty can only be built by developing a relationship that keeps customers coming back when the price goes up or when customers find a lower price elsewhere. That kind of loyalty can only be established by delivering the customer real value through every other aspect of the customer relationship.
In my experience building medical spas (Elase Medical Spas: www.elase.com) and a medical aesthetic training school (the National Institute of Medical Aesthetics: www.nima.edu), we have tried to focus on enhancing value from the very first interaction with the customer, through to the point of sale, and after the sale. We make it a regular practice to carefully analyze every aspect of the customer relationship by asking questions like: Is our website easy to navigate, esthetically pleasing and updated regularly with meaningful content so that our customers want to revisit? Do our customers hear a friendly, helpful voice when they call and are they greeted with a smile when they walk into our business? Is what our customers see, hear and smell upon entering our business consistent with our brand?
In addition, social media is a great way to provide customers with value far beyond the point of sale. Examples include investing in maintaining a blog that is continually updated with relevant content, posting interesting and esthetically pleasing materials on Instagram and regularly promoting products and services on a Facebook page. But value will only be created if real substance is provided instead of just fluff.
Without even talking about price or product quality there are an almost endless number of areas where a business is either enhancing or detracting from the overall value provided to its customers. The goal should be to provide the customer real value at every point of the relationship, from the very first interaction.
We have found that when we invest in providing customers real value throughout the customer experience, then customers not only buy our products and services, but they buy them with passion. A customer who buys with passion is less price-sensitive, will spend more money, return more frequently, complain less and will recommend our products and services to others