A lot of what it takes to build a successful business comes down to common sense and hard-won experience. There are certain truisms that we need to remind ourselves of as we battle through the day-to-day challenges of building a start-up business.
Ensuring that our customers are happy with our product or service is one of those truisms and it’s a critically important one. It’s up there with ensuring we have cash to pay our staff and bills on time, working to a business plan that leads to a rewarding outcome, and keeping a clean, professional reputation – among others.
Customer satisfaction is important to any business, but the earlier you are in your business growth, the more critical the satisfaction of each customer is. When you sign up your first customer, they represent 100 percent of your customer-base. Their opinion of your business has huge significance and the same is true for the next few early customers.
Choose your first customers carefully. Ensure that your business can meet their requirements and that they have the right kind of early-adopter attitude to be forgiving of any bumps in the road they might encounter with your new business.
If your business goes on to be successful, these early customers should be very proud to be one of your earliest customers who backed you with their trust. Ask them to be a referral customer and/or to be featured in a published customer case study.
Another truism is “you can’t keep everyone happy all of the time”. I take this as reminder of the importance of selecting your first customers well.
Take time to get to know your first customers. Strive to understand their needs and requirements relating to your business as best you can. Do everything you can to ensure they have as good an experience with your business as possible.
I still remember the early customers of all my start-up businesses and to the best of my knowledge I’m still on good terms with all of them. I’m still grateful for how they helped
me and my businesses immensely in those early and
As your customer base grows, you can use NPS (Net Promoter Score) systems to keep tabs on your customer satisfaction levels and when required, step in to solve issues in a timely manner.
When it comes to marketing and advertising your business, the positive words of your customers are always more credible and powerful than any positive words attributed to you.
I find that the best marketing tool of all is the ‘case study’,
which is a published article about how a customer has benefited by using our product or service. This involves our PR company interviewing the customer and producing a draft story document which is submitted back to them for approval or changes before being published.
A case study should ideally include a photo of the customer, the branding of their company (if applicable) and some break-out quotes that best summarize their viewpoints.
Always ensure that all quotes and statements published about your product or service are genuine. There is nothing worse than fake, over-hyped marketing, because people see through it and
it ultimately degrades your reputation and your business.
Always use real customers and real words from those
My businesses have normally published case studies as documents, but video can also be an excellent platform for producing case studies.
Mark Loveys has been dubbed ‘one of New Zealand’s most successful serial software entrepreneurs’. He was the original developer of Exonet, the ERP software suite now called MYOB Exo, and former chairman and co-founder of Datasquirt.
As co-founder and former CEO of Enprise Group, Mark helped establish EMS-Cortex ‘cloud control panel’ software as a leading international solution and was instrumental in the sale of EMS-Cortex to Citrix in 2011. These trade sales have a combined value of more than $50 million.