We’ve all been there haven’t we? If you’re currently running a small start-up, you no doubt regularly break out in a sweat and hyperventilate because you’re understandably stressed about your SME’s small number of (or lack of) customers. If you run a bigger business, with a higher turnover and employ more staff, you’ll remember those sleepless nights and desperate days trying to secure those coveted clients.
Customers equal profit and profit equates to success, so the more customers you have the more likely your enterprise is to take off- simple maths, right? Yes, success means different things to different people and isn’t and shouldn’t be defined as just profit (as we discussed in a previous blog post) but when a humble start-up is in the vulnerable and turbulent throes of infancy and launching, most business owners have their sights and focus firmly locked into the tunnel vision of customer acquisition.
Due to customers being so valuable from the very moment the idea of a business plan is conceived, we are enveloped in the ethos that “the customer is always right.” CEO of Woohoo Inc., Alexander Kjerulf, informs us on his post on postivesharing.com that the phrase was coined by Harry Gordon Selfridge, the entrepreneur who started Selfridge’s in London back in 1909. Mr Selfridge was a great business visionary, who’s retail empire still thrives today, but many businesses across the spectrum are discarding his once popular expression and the notions behind it.
Why are customers not always right- and when are they wrong for your business?
The first reasons that spring to mind are of a financial nature. As Social Triggers outlines in one of their posts, customers that request refunds once the refund period has expired or who deny you the money they owe by the date you both agreed to in your contract between you are immediately harmful for your business and its future.
Financial harm isn’t the only type of damage your business is prone to suffering at the hands of customers. Clients can adversely affect your reputation too. In a world where social media is ingrained in our marketing and engagement practices, it can also serve as an open arena for slating your company and voicing complaints. Customers can also berate your company over something small- something they may not have even been that bothered about- with the intention of getting a product or service from you for free.
Sometimes customers are just plain wrong or abusive or difficult clients are given an unfair advantage over nice customers as Alexander Kjerulf notes: “Using the slogan “The customer is always right” abusive customers can demand just about anything – they’re right by definition, aren’t they? This makes the employees’ job that much harder, when trying to rein them in.”
And that’s just it isn’t it? Why would a good employer want their staff’s jobs to be harder? If business owners treat their own workforce with respect, morale will be higher and staff are more likely to take pride in their work and customer service. Instead of a vicious cycle, it becomes a positive one.
The bottom line to remember is that customers should sometimes come first- and sometimes they should come second after your own employees. While getting new clients on board is often a major priority, especially for start-ups, never compromise on your business’ self-preservation- quality customers who will benefit and boost your business are worth more than multitude of clients who will drag your company down.
For more support and advice on how to deal with your customer strategy consider our innovative 90 Day Business Growth Programme!