A friend recently wrote an article about repeat customers. He is a very successful businessman and says that 60% to 70% of his multi-million dollar business is repeat business. That is impressive! His explanation of how that came to be boils down to two things: Treating customers well, and developing an outstanding reputation. To some, those may seem to be the same thing. Treating customers well should be the cause of having a good reputation, but it’s not quite that simple. Treating the customer well is expected but does not necessarily build a great or outstanding reputation. Treating customers well is what a company does, having a good reputation has to do with whom or what the company is known to be. What one does is about behaviors. Reputation is about being true to values. By what values is your company known? Everyone wants to claim they value honesty and integrity. Individuals and companies are not known for what they say, but what they demonstrate or deliver. Outstanding reputations are the result of supplier’s, employee’s, customer’s, shareholder’s and communities’ experiences of honesty, integrity, etc., in every interaction with you and the company.
Most companies work at developing customer trust and respect. But, if insiders, employees, shareholders, or even suppliers do not experience honesty and integrity within the organization, distrust will soon become wide spread. There is a big box company that is known for two things – inexpensive products and poor treatment of employees and suppliers. That company does a great business with those who can’t afford to make other choices. However, most suppliers will do their best to separate themselves from this company, and consumers who can afford to do so will shop almost any place else.
How Is Your Company Seen?
Here is the big question: How self-reflective are you and your company? Are you whom you want the public to think you are? I ask this because it’s important that you recognize that, in the words of Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a changin’”. In the not too distant future, companies whose focus is primarily on the financial bottom line will be in competition with companies that have a much broader focus. Companies that focus only on the financial bottom line will be paying uncommitted employees second rate salaries to do third rate work. The financial bottom line is: executives will eventually sell the store to save themselves. One does not have to be a prophet or have a crystal ball to see this coming.
There is empirical evidence that indicates companies which focus on “all of us,” rather than just on “us,” perform better in the market place, especially over the long term. Again, I write this to re-emphasize that it will be business that will transform the world. We should intentionally be involved in creating a world to which people (all people) want to belong.