“You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.” Charlie “Tremendous” Jones.
Believing in this mantra for years, as an avid reader of the books by Dr. Joseph Michelli, I have learned so much about delivering the World’s Best Customer Experience through his insight starting with his book, The Starbucks Experience: 5 Principles for Turning Ordinary Into Extraordinary. Having had a long career in hospitality, I especially learned from Dr. Michelli’s The New Gold Standard: 5 Leadership Principles for Creating a Legendary Customer Experience Courtesy of the Ritz-Carlton. I was fortunate to have Dr. Michelli write a blog post about his book, Driven to Delight: Delivering World-Class Customer Experience the Mercedes-Benz Way.
Ever since the beginning of last year, all of us have had to endure this pandemic. But rather than learn from our own personal leadership experiences on how to survive, I recommend Dr. Michelli’s most recent book, Stronger through Adversity. In it, he provides invaluable wisdom and lessons from senior business executives on how to lead through and beyond COVID-19, including crisis management, keeping employees and customers safe, maintaining a culture of engagement, rapidly innovating, and more. So it is a real privilege for me to feature such a timely post from him. You can find out more about Dr. Michelli and his new book at the end of his post.
Whether you are launching a business, seeking to grow a startup, or stewarding an established company, it’s worthwhile to pause occasionally and answer a fundamental question. What is the purpose of my business? This was especially the case in the context of the pandemic.
If your answer to that question was anything other than “to create a customer,” you may want to read on.
It’s common for entrepreneurs and business leaders to think they are in business to “create profit”; however, I’d argue you are in business to “create a customer” – since there is no profit without them. Ironically, prioritizing profits can actually lead to business decisions that drive customers away.
As a consultant to organizations of all sizes (from startups to global enterprises like Mercedes-Benz or Starbucks), I’ve learned that “customer creation” (attracting and retaining them) is a simple matter of value!
For my book Stronger Through Adversity, I spoke to more than 140 plus CEO’s and C-suite executives to garner insights on how they create value for their team members and customers in the context of the pandemic.
Their insights reinforce six key components of creating and exchanging customer value to drive success in good times and bad:
- Explore value: Understand the wants and needs of your consumers.
- Create value: Craft solutions to address your consumers’ needs.
- Market value: Communicate the benefits of your solutions to your consumers.
- Sell value: Help consumers find sufficient value in your offerings so they will provide something of value to you in return (e.g., make a purchase).
- Deliver value: Ensure your consumers receive the value you promised.
- Prosper through value efficiency: Deliver value economically to sustain and grow your business (or else you have a hobby).
I will concede that my value formula is a lot easier to capture on paper than it is to deliver in day-to-day operation, so let me offer a few questions to help you ensure you are on the right track:
- What have you done to uncover your target customer’s stated and unstated wants and needs (market research)?
- How do you know your products/services will meet a sizable need (focus groups/beta testing)?
- How can you gain access to the customer segments that will find your solutions attractive (targeted marketing strategies)?
- What benefits, attributes or experiential elements of your product/service are you emphasizing during your sales process (sales tool development and training)?
- How are you ensuring that your customers receive the value every time they interact with you – no excuses (service skill tools and customer experience design)?
- Have you tested pricing options to guarantee you are maximizing profitability to fuel your sustainability (pricing optimization)?
Large businesses benefit from individual departments that focus on all elements of value creation and delivery while smaller businesses benefit from being closer to their customers. In all cases, the businesses that faired best throughout the pandemic were those that most nimbly pivoted to address the changing wants, needs, and desires of those they serve.
In keeping with lessons from Stronger Through Adversity, may you continually and adaptively pursue value that results in customers’ creation, profits, and growth!
You can learn more about Stronger Through Adversity and get your copy here.
Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D., C.S.P., is an internationally sought-after speaker, author, and organizational consultant who transfers his knowledge of exceptional business practices in ways that develop joyful and productive workplaces with a focus on the total customer experience. His insights encourage leaders and frontline workers to grow and invest passionately in all aspects of their lives. Find out more about him at josephmichelli.com . Follow him on Twitter @