The Golden Rule of Business
- Published: 05/09/2014
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In our business seminars and workshops, I discuss and teach the Five Pillars of Business Success. The “Five Pillars” are key business principles that form a foundation business owners must construct to create a successful, lasting business. The Five Pillars are: 1) The Customer Experience, 2) Create Profit, 3) Own a Business (not a job), 4) Manage Systems, Lead People, and 5) Make Time for the Business of Business.
The Customer Experience: Although all five pillars are necessary for success, the first pillar - the Customer Experience - is of central importance. The Customer Experience is what forms your business’ identity in the marketplace – your relationship with your customers and community. All businesses create a customer experience - be it good, bad or indifferent.
The Customer Experience, however, is the most abstract of the five pillars, making it one of the more difficult pillars to grasp. It is all encompassing and created by every direct and indirect interaction between your business, its customers, and those you want to become its customers. It is also subjective and varies from person to person. Part logical but mostly emotional, it is more important than your product’s price, more complex than advertising or branding, and only vaguely related to cliché of Customer Service. Complex and abstract, the Customer Experience may be best explained by comparing it to the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Since those of us on the Golden Rule’s receiving end would like others to treat us in a manner that makes our lives better, it is fairly easy to translate the Golden Rule into Customer Experience terms: How does your business make the lives of others better?
Golden Rule Reality: The reality of business, particularly small business, is this: Your business exists to form relationships that solve a problem or fulfill a need, want, or desire. In short, it exists to make the lives of others better – to add value and enhance the life-quality of your customers and community. Your customers, however, have many options, generally in the form of other businesses, available to solve their problem or fulfill their need, want or desire. For any given price, the option they choose (be it your business, a competitor’s business or no business at all) will be the one that makes them happiest (or less miserable) – that most increases their life-quality.
When viewed this way, we quickly realize the humbling honor bestowed when a customer chooses our business over all these other options. We also realize that a successful business is one that consistently increases the life-quality of others - that most efficiently and effectively fulfills the Golden Rule!
Experience Factor: Part and parcel of the Golden Rule is the understanding that customers do not just purchase the product or service your business sells. In fact, the product or service itself has very little to do with why they choose to be your customer when the yellow pages are full of businesses selling the exact same product or service. So, why should they choose you? They choose you not so much because of the thing you sell, but because of the life-improving EXPERIENCE derived from buying that “thing” from you - from your business!
It is this experience that sets you apart - that makes your business attractive. It is the reason customers return, tell their friends about you, pay your price, or are even willing to pay higher prices than others charge for the same product or service. Your role, as owner, is to craft and constantly refine your customers’ experience by making all interactions as rewarding, easy, and meaningful as possible.
Crafting the Customer Experience: Crafting your Customer Experience starts by answering two basic questions.
1 - What are your customers (really) buying, and you (really) selling? People do not buy products and services. They purchase benefits - the results derived from purchase of your product and service. Uncovering what your customers really buy (and you sell) requires stepping into the shoes of those who use your product or service.
To illustrate this point, consider Matt, a master electrician who formed his own electrical business several years ago but has been struggling to grow. Matt has been struggling because he, and many others, would say that what electricians sell and their customers buy is the electrical wiring of homes and businesses. Matt does indeed perform such activities on a daily basis. These activities, however, may be how the work gets done, but it is not the benefit his customers really buy.
Electricity is both a purposeful tool and perilous menace. The electricity used to brew your morning coffee also causes 67,800 fires, 485 deaths, and $868 million in property losses each year, largely due to improper wiring. Hiring Matt means your home and business will be safe from such loss.
Question: What benefit do Matt’s customers really buy?
Electricity is also expensive. Fortunately, Matt’s training makes him an energy conservation expert. He knows which appliances, light bulbs, insulation, and wiring systems save money and help the environment. He also knows which systems and products qualify for state and federal tax credits. Since the average U.S. family spends well over $1,500 per year on electricity, Matt’s expertise can save households and businesses hundreds of dollars annually - an investment that can quickly pay for itself.
Question: What other benefit do Matt’s customers buy?
2. Why should your customers buy from you? So, now that Matt knows what his customers really buy—- Safety and Savings, not just wiring—- he needs to determine why those desiring electrical safety and savings should buy from him. To answer this question, Matt reflects on the Golden Rule and asks how his business can increase the life-quality of his customers and community and decides to take several steps to share the benefits of his business (electrical safety and savings) with others.
First: Matt becomes the region’s foremost electrical safety educator and expert. He designs an age-relevant electrical-safety brochure and devotes one week per year to visit area elementary schools. Here he shares a 30 minute presentation on the exciting power and potential dangers of electricity. Of course, he will also ask the children to take his brochure home to review with his prospective customers - their parents!
Matt also decides to devote some time each holiday season to work with area fire companies and the local media to promote electrical safety related to space heaters, Christmas, trees and holiday decorations.
Second: Matt becomes an advocate of electrical savings, particularly in the area of new construction. He does this by collecting and sharing information on how various building materials affect the heating and electrical costs of homes and businesses. He collects information about the reliability and comparative costs of electrical trends in the areas of LED lighting, geothermal heating, and alternative forms of energy while staying on top of existing tax credits and available subsidies. He shares this information and his expertise with regional contractors who hire electricians such as himself, as well as referral sources such as electrical suppliers and appliance store managers.
By uncovering the benefit his customers really derive from his product or service and transforming this benefit into a life-enhancing experience, Matt begins to craft his business’ identity. This identity - Matt’s Customer Experience - is the first pillar around which he will construct the remaining four pillars; Making a Profit, Owning a Business (not a job), Managing Systems, Leading People, and Making Time for the Business of Business.
If you would like to learn more about the Five Pillars of Business Success including how to craft your own Customer Experience phone (304) 267-2594 to learn about upcoming seminar dates.