As a business, what is your most valuable asset?
Ask that question of any business and my guess is that you’ll get a few variations of the same answer:
Our Cash Balance.
All are great answers. All, most certainly have a seat at the table. And yet, all are centered on the answer that I believe is most accurate:
Some may argue (and rightfully so) that claiming something as intangible as customer relationships as your most valuable asset, puts a considerable amount of risk in an area where we as business operators have little control. Hire great people, build great products that represent the most cutting edge technology and you’ll acquire more customers, make more money, and have more cash. Oh, and by the way, there’s no line on the balance sheet for “customer relationships”.
There’s reason to the statements above. It’s an order of operations solution to how to grow a business. “If I have great people, they will do great things, customers will buy what they build and we will be successful.” Fair.
Now just for a moment, let’s turn that around and lead with a customer centric point of view. “When we have great customers, who will be the people on our team who best represent their interests? What is the cutting edge technology that our customers care about? If we invest our resource time and money into new products, will it help our customers solve problems and allow them to capture more of their market?”
Ok, perhaps not just for a moment. Let’s adopt that philosophy altogether. Sell me that, and I’m in.
However to just say it, leaves so much un-attended do. Too often, organizations get stuck in saying the right things and lack the follow through to actually do the right things. Customer centricity takes investment, time, and practice. Especially as you shift an organization towards it and adopt new principals and guidelines for how you’ll conduct business. It’s a mindset that is infused and adopted across the organization. No department is excused from keeping customers top of mind.
Some key questions I ask myself when trying to step inside prospective customer’s shoes:
Q) Is the content we’re producing information that would help me understand what it is that we do and the challenges we help solve?
Q) When we finally interact, on the phone or in person, do you truly care about my business or does it feel manufactured to help get the sale?
Worth noting here, I think this is an important, albeit very challenging question. It comes back to why hiring the right people is so important. You can’t manufacture genuine interest in a prospects success. Either you are interested or you’re not and it’s typically very obvious.
Q) Once I become a customer, do I get the continued sense that the organization values my business? Or am I stuck justifying it on my own?
Q) If it’s a recurring SaaS business, is there an outlet for my feedback and are updates being made based on that feedback?
Q) When customers get our invoices, is the money they are investing in us an amount they are pleased to pay? (Understand that this is a bit absurd. Nobody likes receiving invoices. But the concept helps be think about how we operate.)
If you can answer yes to all of these, you are ahead of the game. If your entire organization would answer the same way, I’d say you’re on your way to something special.
In my professional opinion, customers are by far your most valuable assets. Take a step back and ask yourself, “How much of my day is spent thinking about our customers?” If you have to think for long, perhaps it’s time to open a dialogue in your organization about customer centricity.