Strategy for Growth: Become a Company Customers Want to Do Business With, Not Because They Have To

I recently bought a 21-inch monitor online for my home office. I was so excited when I received the unit. But something was wrong. And that’s why I’m writing about it here.

There was nothing wrong with the monitor and how it looks like. No dead pixels, no dents. The power supply is working. HDMI connection is displaying properly.

The problem was one of the screws for the vesa mount wasn’t working. I don’t know the exact term for it, but the inside thread (the part where the screws should attach) was loose or missing in one of the holes. The vesa mounts have a 4-screw attachment for a reason. It’s more stable you’d have less risk of it falling down. Plus, over time, 3 screws will put an uneven weight on the monitor and that might cause some other problems in the future. I don’t want to risk it.

So, I ended up contacting their customer service.

And it was very disappointing.

It seems like I can only chat with them for a few lines a day and I’d have to wait another 24 hours before I get a response. Because of my frustration, I even offered to bring the unit back to their physical shop to have it replaced or fixed. Not them. I offered to bring it.

All they said was I used the wrong screws — which was totally nonsense since I used the same screws on the other three and they were working properly. Then I apparently used the wrong one on this hole.

Disappointing.

Anyway, the customer service rep said okay and asked me when I can bring the unit over. I said later today (that was in the morning. I had to finish some work and can leave around lunch time). Great.

I brought the monitor in. And more issues come up.

Apparently the branch nearest me moved to another spot for quite some time now. Their website didn’t reflect this change of address. Waze and Google Maps didn’t reflect this as well. The customer rep didn’t mention that they moved to another spot.

I was really getting frustrated.

By the time I got to the store, I was faced with parking issues. This is quite understandable. The rest, not so much.

I got in the store, spoke with one of the technicians there and looked at it. After a while, someone came in and told me that I had to leave the monitor and wait for a new replacement unit to be delivered.

That’s it.

They won’t replace it. They won’t fix it. They won’t do anything about it.

Note that I bought the unit from the same seller, but from a different channel (online marketplace instead of directly from that store branch).

I ended up leaving there cursing.

I don’t have my money. I don’t have my monitor. I wasted an hour or so of my life. I couldn’t work properly because of my frustration.

Fuck.

To remove this vent up anger, I walked around my village for a while. My health app counted 4.5 km in total. So, I’m guessing I walked an additional 2.5 km since my average for a day is around 2 km.

As I looked back at this experience, one thing came to mind— be a company that people want to do business with, rather than because customers don’t have a choice.

I came up with a couple of tips for how to do just that.

5 Tips to Be a Company Your Customer Loves

1. Put the customer at the center of everything

What ended up happening to me was very frustrating. Not enough communication. Not enough effort. Overall a terrible experience.

Put your customers at the heart of every strategy and tactic that you do and everything will fall into place.

To that company, I wasn’t the focus.

The customer service rep could have told me that their process is this or that. The store could have easily replaced my unit. They do have stocks for the same one I purchased but they said it was a different inventory and that their price is different.

If you’ve been reading the business section of my website, I’ve been continuously writing about value creation. That the purpose of a business is to create a customer. And to create a customer means to create value for them.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

2. Communication is key

The buying experience doesn’t start and end at the point of purchase. It stretches long before people get in touch with your company, and it spans even until the product has lived its useful life. Remember, you are a company, not a product.

What people remember is always how you make them feel.

In my case, I’ll have this article to remind me of them. And I’m pretty sure I will never buy nor recommend them to anyone ever again. They just got added to the list of companies I never go back to.

Creating content that addresses the different stages of the buyer’s journey is important because it shows that you are focused on your customers. In fact, that’s one of the key questions I have on the quiz I created to gauge whether you’re focused on your customers or on yourself.

3. Growth is achieved through repeat purchases

I have never seen an industry that grows solely through single purchases. If there are, please point them to me so I can learn more about them. Business growth is always achieved through repeat purchases and referrals from those happy customers.

Even real estate or housing shows that the industry’s first-time buyers only make up a third of the business. Those with physical locations like restaurants need much more higher percentage of repeat purchases (or higher average order value) in order to survive.

Treating customers like trash, just like they did to me, is not a great way to do business. Heck, I could simply namedrop them here and people will see this review online.

Guess you already know I won’t be buying from them again.

4. Don’t just sell products/services

This still falls under value creation for customers. But the idea here is to stop thinking that you’re there to sell products or services. Think of your company, and more specifically your role as a representative of the company, to help other people. To solve their problems.

Go beyond the sale.

People buy things not because they want to buy it. Rather, it solves a particular problem/want/need. We all attach value to things.

In my case, I needed a bigger monitor so I can work properly. I would have a bigger screen and I don’t have to sit close to my 12-inch MacBook. It helps with eye strain. But the bigger reason I bought a monitor is to help my back and shoulders. I sit in front of my computer for hours in my line of work. Hunching down on my Mac isn’t helping.

In fact, I’ve recently completed a 12-session rehab for my upper trapezius muscles — the ones running from the base of the neck to your shoulder blades to the lower back. I don’t want to go through that again.

Continuously looking down exerts great pressure on these muscles just to keep it in place. Did you know the average human head weighs 5 kgs or 11 pounds? Try holding that weight in front of you using one hand for 1 minute. That’s difficult. That’s what our traps are doing every time we look down.

Apart from my big monitor, I also got a desk mount. That way, I don’t have to look down on my screen and just look straight.

That’s why I bought a monitor. To help me with my health problems. That’s the value I’m looking for.

And now I’m back to my laptop, looking down, and my muscles are all tight again from the stress of everything that’s happened so far.

No value created.

5. Expect the unexpected

No product is perfect. Hardware of software, there will always be some form of problem that will come up. And that’s understandable.

Even that happens to big brands.

Two years ago, after coming back from the US where I bought a new MacBook, my keyboard suddenly stopped working properly. If I remember correctly, every time I press the “s” button, it either won’t work or continue producing a string of “sssss” on one click. And this was just within 3-4 months of buying that new MacBook. But upon taking it to the store, they told me they had to replace the keyboard which was coming from overseas. So I can either leave the unit there for a couple of days, or bring it back again when they get the new keyboard. Then once I leave it back, it would take 1-3 days to finish because part of their process is to check for other issues as well.

This is very different from my experience with the seller of the monitor.

The seller for my monitor didn’t tell me anything about the process. In my chat conversation, I offered to bring it to the shop to have it replaced or fixed. They said okay and even notified the branch I’m coming. Naturally, that’s what I’m going to expect when I get there— to get it fixed or replaced. But I experienced a different shitty process altogether.

Contrast that with my experience with Apple. They told me the timeframes and what to expect. They even gave me an option so I can still use my laptop.

Conclusion

If you want your business to stay in business, put your customers at the heart of everything you do. Redefine your roles, processes, and operations around the customer experience.

You already know that selling to an existing customer is easier than selling to a new one. It also costs way less to do that as well. And the other benefit is you can get more revenues through referrals as long as you provide your customers with a great experience.

And during times when you experience issues or complaints, again, put your customers first. Don’t pass them around, nor make it harder for them to do business with you.

Communicate early. Communicate often.

Don’t wait until some new company comes along and takes away all your customers. The key to growth is making customers want to do business with you and not just because they have no choice.

Ariel Lim

Ariel Lim

Management consultant / MBA / Inbound marketer who helps startups generate leads, create and execute strategies.

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