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

mall escalators

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.


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.


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.


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.

Personality vs Behavior: Why Focusing on One is Detrimental (Find Out Which One)

Man in a Car Driving

If there are things you can do to create better outcomes for your business, would you do it? 

Of course, you would. 

What if I also tell you that it won’t cost you anything extra, would that interest you further? 



Before I tell you what to do, watch this video that has gone viral in the US. It’s about a 20-year old who takes orders at a Chick-fil-A store. 

What Exactly Are Behaviors

Before diving in, what the heck are behaviors? 

Manager Tools defines behaviors as any one (or in most cases, a combination) of the following: 

  1. The words you say
  2. How you say them
  3. Facial expressions
  4. Body language
  5. Work products

I won’t get into the weeds of discussing that in this article as they offer the best resource out there about this topic. 

For now, let’s go back to our video. Did you notice of the use of the words “how may I serve you today?” being used over and over. 

Feel free to play it again if you didn’t catch it the first time. 

If you were the customer, how would that make you feel? Me? I’d be delighted. The person doesn’t interrupt me. Prioritized my needs. He’s not focused on upselling, rather, focused on listening to me instead of waiting to speak up. 

Contrast that with your last visit to another restaurant or fast food chain. How many times did the person taking your order interrupt you while you were still ordering? How many times did they focus on saying their “script” rather than listening to you? 

Why Focusing on Personality Is a Terrible Idea

Popular culture often talks about different personality traits and how we should understand the personality of the other person. 

While there’s nothing wrong with that, that statement is already contradictory. 

Personality, by definition, is a combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. In short, personality is who you are. Behaviors, on the other hand, can be modified. 

Imagine with me here for a moment. 

Think of an outgoing/extrovert person — a friend, family member, a colleague. Anyone. 

Let’s say you went together to church or a funeral. 

Would you’re outgoing or extrovert friend continue talking in a loud voice or won’t stop talking? 

I highly doubt it. 

Why? Because even if the person has an extroverted personality, he/she can modify their behavior to suit the appropriate environment. That’s why focusing on personality doesn’t get you anywhere in business. It’s what most companies are focusing on. 

And that’s why Chick-fil-A is dominating fast food — all because they focus on behaviors rather than personality. 

Reason 1: Behaviors are repeatable

Let’s go back to our video. 

The person kept repeating the words “how may I serve you today?” 

That’s not by accident, nor is it because the person is outgoing or an extrovert. 

It’s because the company knows that behaviors— more specifically the words you say and how you say them— make a difference. 

That’s how Chick-fil-A claimed the No. 1 spot on the American Customer Satisfaction Index’s annual restaurant report for the fourth year in a row. 

Towards the end of the video, you should also notice the words “our pleasure serving you.” Again, that’s not by accident. It’s a variation of the words “my pleasure” which all employees say instead of “you’re welcome.” 

These things don’t happen by chance. Chick-fil-A has developed an airtight training plan for employees and has added other little details to make locations feel more hospitable and friendly. 

Business Insider

So, regardless of the personality type, the outcomes are consistent to what the Chick-fil-A wants — which is to make their customers want to come back and spend time at their stores. 

Reason 2: Hiring becomes a problem 

Focusing on personality also brings up another problem — hiring. 

You can’t just hire “outgoing” people for your customer-facing roles. Why? Because you’d end up discriminating and won’t have a diverse workforce. 

I personally don’t know the person in the video (identified as Jeremiah Murrill). But from the looks of it, he is not an outgoing person. Rather, he just adapted his training to create better outcomes for Chick-fil-A. 

He smiles. He listens. He doesn’t interrupt. He uses specific words. 

All are behaviors. 

Remember what I told you at the beginning? If there are things you can do that can create better outcomes and it costs nothing, would you do it? 

That’s how the management at Chick-fil-a sees it. 

They don’t just look at personality traits. Rather, they built a program designed to promote customer service that every employee goes through. 

How many of your employees go through such a training? Which words to use and not use? Which body language or tone of voice give you better outcomes? 

Still not convinced about why behaviors are better than personality? 

You don’t have to take my word for it. 

This superior customer service has helped drive massive growth at Chick-fil-A over the past decade. The company went from $3.2 billion in systemwide sales at the end of 2009 to $10.5 billion at the end of 2018, making Chick-fil-A the third-largest fast-food chain in America.

Over to You

Most people don’t think about the words they say because it’s natural to us. We’re not writing anything so whatever we say is correct, right? 

As leaders in your organization, it’s more important to look at your own behaviors. 

Have you ever experienced talking to someone, and they took it negatively? Even with the purest of intentions, the words you say and how you say them carry more weight. Then we shrug it off as someone being closed-minded. 

But we didn’t take into account the words we said or how we said it. 

And that’s why focusing on behaviors is more important than personality. 

What behaviors are important to your business? Are there specific words that make you appear more focused on your customer? Do your staff keep using “I” instead of “we”? 

Don’t leave things to chance. 

If there are specific behaviors your top salesperson is doing, wouldn’t it be better for your business if everybody in your sales team is repeating the same behaviors?

Customer Focus: What Does It Mean and How to Really Focus on Your Customers

Does your organization have a customer focus culture

I’m currently waiting inside a Globe store waiting for my number to be called. So far, it’s only been a few minutes, it’s a weekend, and there are a couple of people here already.

I know I’ll be in here at least 30 minutes.

So, I thought, why not use this time to start writing an article about putting customers first.

If you read any about us section of any website, you will see some variation of customer focus. You’d read phrases like customer-oriented, put our customers first, prioritize customers, or the classic, the customer is king.

As is often the case, it’s always easy to say (or write) something than do it.

So, what exactly is customer focus?

How to Know If My Company Is Customer Focused?

  1. Do you have an FAQ section on your website?
  2. Do you have an onboarding/welcome series?
  3. Do you have a unified database of customer information?

What Is Customer Focus

Customer focus is putting the experience of the customer first above everything else . This means meeting customer needs across the different stages they go through from purchase down to disposal.

It’s worth noting that that definition above includes everything your organization does that affects customer satisfaction — which is pretty much every business unit and department from marketing and sales, customer service, and even accounting and billing.

One particular tool that can help you develop a customer focus strategy is using the buyer utility map from the Blue Ocean Strategy. It helps you enter a mindset that is centered around customer needs and expectations.

According to HubSpot, customer expectations today are higher today than last year (or 10 years ago). This indicates that great customer service can become a competitive advantage.

Does your organization have a customer focus strategy?

3 Simple Questions to Ask Yourself Whether You Have a Customer Focus Culture in Your Organization

1. Does your organization have an FAQ section on your website?

One of the things customers look at when trying to purchase something is the FAQ section of your website.

And if they don’t ask, do not assume that they don’t want to fulfill this need.

Every single buyer wants to know the basic information, or at least find it very quickly should the need arises. If you don’t know this already, potential buyers are over 80% of the buying cycle before they get in touch with a salesperson from your company.

If you don’t have content that helps them in their research process, you’re guaranteed to lose them to your competitors who are investing in educational and helpful content.

Let’s say you sell clothes online. Some FAQs that your customers might want to know are the following:

  • How long is the delivery
  • Is there a delivery fee? How much?
  • What if the clothes don’t fit? Can I return them / exchange them?
  • If I return an item, do I have to pay for shipping? Where do I send it back?

Pro Tip: Once you have answers to these FAQs, create a page on your website if you haven’t already. Place them all there. Make it prominent so your customers can find it easily. After they purchase, include the top 3-5 FAQs in an email, then link back to the page itself.

By doing this, you are helping them find the information that they need. You make it easy for them to do business with you. You’re not hiding anything from them. This increases trust.

An organization that is focused on their customers will make it easy for their customers to get what they want or need.

Ariel (click to tweet)

2. Do you have an onboarding/welcome email series?

After buying something from you, a customer will have a lot of questions. Doubts can also creep in the form of buyer’s remorse.

The only way to fight this and create a better experience for your customers is to be there every step of the way.

The easiest way to do this is through a series of email (and/or any communication channel like SMS, on-site messages, notifications on your phone, etc).

The series is all about getting your new customers up-to-speed on your product/service.

Pro Tip: Create an onboarding/welcome email series. It’s usually 3-5 emails spaced a few days apart and differs per organization. Following the tip from the previous section, you can include your FAQs here. You can also use this series to further let them know that they made the right decision to buy from you.

By doing this, you reduce the chance of them thinking of returning your product or trying to get out of the contract. You also make it easier for them to adapt and be more productive.

For example, in the technology world, this is called the “Aha moment.” For Facebook, it’s getting 7 friends in 10 days

That’s why when you create an account with them, you’ll see notifications and UX designs on the app/website asking you to add friends, or do some other tasks. This is all part of their onboarding series to help you get up-to-speed with Facebook and avoid you from never using it again.

3. Do you have a unified database of customer information?

Contact management is one of the operational tactics most organizations fail at. This unified database is the “single source of truth” about your customers.

Oftentimes, marketing has multiple lists. Sales has a CRM. Customer service/support has a ticket system. Accounting has another software.

This is one of the reasons why customers get passed around when asking for help or support in something. They call customer service about an issue with their billing, then they transfer them to accounting, then transfer them back to sales.

An organization that is focused on their customers will make it easy for their customers to get what they want or need.

Of course, the followup question is this, “is it updated?” Does everyone who interacts with customers use or have access to this?

The best practice here is this database contains the exact timeline of the person — from the website visits prior the purchase, the items they purchased, how much, the tickets they submitted for support, and all other information.

That way, when they call customer service or @mentioned someone from the marketing team, they won’t reply with “please send us an email” or make them go through hoops just to get a quick answer to their question/problem.

Pro Tip: There is a lot of modern software that does this yet doesn’t break the bank. The most important part here is that the people who interact with customers or handles customer data have access to it. This makes the customer experience seamless.

Just ask yourself this question, “do you enjoy waiting on the phone or getting passed around multiple departments?”

Lastly, make sure that everyone actually uses it and updates the information as needed. Most of the time, you can add notes so that when people look at it, it’s easy to get a quick grasp of what’s happening with the account. And an important part here is to ensure there’s alignment among the different departments, especially around definitions like buying stages (lead, MQL, SQLs, etc.).

So, What Are You Going to Do Next

Putting your customers first is easier said than done. In most organizations, these words are merely lip service.

Don’t be one of those organizations.

Build (or change) your internal processes to make it easy for your customers, not your employees.

  1. Make it easy for your customers to find important and relevant information about you, the products/services they bought, and anything else that can help them trust you quicker.
  2. Continue to build a relationship with your customer — even after purchasing from you. Your customers aren’t stupid. If you don’t nurture this relationship further, they’ll find this somewhere else (your competitors).
  3. A focus on customers means their experience is prioritized over internal systems and legacy processes. If something is not making it easy for your customers, like refunds or support, change the process behind the scenes to make it easier for your customer.

Does your organization claim that the customer is king? Is this actually true? Do your daily operations support this? Let me know in the comments below!

Asking for Smaller Bills Is Poor Customer Service

Sir, may piso kayo?

Don’t you just hate it when cashiers from fastfood restaurants and retailers with point-of-sale (POS) systems ask you for smaller bills or coins when paying? I do. It sucks. It ruins the whole experience.

Now you may say that that is your staff doing it, not you. That makes it worse! As their manager, what are you doing about it? You are customer-focused right? Given that customers are the ones paying, your goal us to satisfy their needs right? Below are two reasons why this has to change.

Two Reasons Why Asking for Smaller Bills Is Poor Customer Service

1. You are the company / the cashier. You have that storage of money, not the customer.

Let us start with the obvious. As the one manning the POS or cash registry, who has more money? 99.99% of any given time, you have more cash at hand than the customer you are dealing with. If she ordered for a PhP 99 meal and gave you PhP 500, don’t you think asking for smaller bills is stupid? If she has one, she would have paid using it. What if she has and still chose to use the larger bill? Isn’t it a waste of time and effort and risking irritating the customer by asking for smaller bills when she “wants” to pay with the larger bill because she will have to commute afterwards? That way she will have a smaller bill for that jeepney driver who does not have change for her PhP 500.

Stop asking those questions because it does not help the customer nor the company. You have more money and more resources at any given time. Your customers know the amount they have to pay and have their reasons for using larger bills for payments.

2. You are making it easier for yourself than for the customer.

This is the worse of the two reasons. Customers are king. They may not always be right, but they are still who you want to please (to a certain extent and trust me, this is one of those instances). Irritated customers do not go back to you unless they have no other choice. Unless you are in the utilities and telecommunications business (where customers don’t have any other alternative), sorry, you have to work on pleasing your customers. If not, that means you do not get their money. You know what makes this worse? Studies show that irritated customers tell other people about their negative experiences – both in person and online. Imagine the reach of one irritated customer and its effect on your business!

When you ask for smaller bills or coins, you are only making it easier for you when customer service is the other way around. It is about making the life of your customers easier. Making them reach out to their pockets or bags for those coins or smaller bills creates stress and annoys the hell out of them.

Look, you know how to count, right? Your customers know how to count as well. If the bill calls for PhP 460 and they give you PhP 500 and you ask if they have PhP 10 so you can quickly give them PhP 50. Or what about if the bill is PhP 31 and your customer gave you PhP 50? You ask for that single peso right? That way you can easily give the their change of PhP 20.

Making it easier for yourself at the expense of customer satisfaction is detrimental to the very nature of your business. Your customers already bought from you and gave you their money. Don’t ruin the whole experimence by asking for change or caller bills. Gladly accept it and give them their change.

PS: Another note on customer service. If you don’t have enough change for an exact amount (e.g. You don’t have 50c or the bill is PhP 89.30), however rare that is, always give your customers more! Don’t ask (and imply you don’t want to give them their due change) “Sir, OK lang walang 50cents?” – another topic for another discussion.