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Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE OVER-CAFFEINATED ENTREPRENEUR: Customer-Centric Focus for Today’s Emerging Enterprise

The Over-Caffeinated Entrepreneur with David J. Dunworth

Why Customer-Centric Focus? What value proposition does it present? How can it be implemented effectively and timely?

A while back, I wrote about the pros and cons of focus groups versus customer advisory panels. This article takes the point of interaction with the customer base to a much deeper level, and offers insights into what type of dramatic change can occur when a company shifts their focus from product or service, to the customer.

READ MY LIPS! It’s all about the customer! Nothing done in any business should be without total consideration of the customer: for without them, there is nothing.

My Scar Tissue – I spent a total of 26 years in the private club industry before retiring to become an entrepreneur, coach, author and presenter. My coaching platform has always been about creating an environment whereby the customer is at the center of everything. I create customer-focused enterprises for my clients, as well as my own businesses. I learned to be customer-centric from the greatest man to influence the private club industry: Mr. Robert Dedman. In the club business we didn’t use the word customer, ours were Members, and we felt so strongly about them the word was capitalized. “The Member is King (or Queen)!" That was our mantra, our core philosophy, our battle cry. “If you take care of the Member, everything will turn out fine.” These words by Mr. Dedman became part and parcel of the Cardinal Rule of club operations. These types of beliefs sustained our clubs through the elimination of dues as a business expense, the partial elimination of food and beverage cost as a business expense, the flood of high cuisine restaurants, and a host of other changes over the decades.

My point is simple; this mentality MUST come from the absolute top of the organization, or the entire company will never be customer-centric. Every decision made must be reviewed through the eyes of the customer before enacting change, eliminating or changing a facet of business, etc. These decisions are not limited to the product or service, but encompass every department, action, reaction or change to the business itself. The customer is king, or queen, and must be considered when altering anything in the company.

Everyone knows that the most expensive aspect of business is the acquisition of new customers. Companies constantly place advertisements, market in multiple channels, discount, coupon, and rebate and try an assortment of “inducements” to gain new customers. What they should be spending their marketing dollars is taking care of the existing customer base, establishing loyalty, repeat business, and referrals.

The sole purpose of business is to have a product or service and create transactions whereby the customer purchases from them. With the customer, anything is possible. Without the customer, you are nothing short of wasting your time and money. The life cycle of business can be viewed in simple form through the customer-centric focus wheel, as noted below.

The Customer-Centric Success Wheel

What are the benefits of transforming your organization to a customer –centric business?

Not only will the organization operate more productively, there will be increased revenues, often double-digit improvements, increased customer satisfaction and loyalty, and less turnover of clientele. There will be noticeable changes in the customer acquisition costs, sales, marketing and operational costs will decrease, and the loyalty of customers will bring in referral customers.

Every facet of the business must take responsibility for its share in becoming customer-centric. Whether it be vendors, partners, strategic alliances, resellers, distributors, employees or investment partners, all have a part to play to make the convergence to customer centered operations a belief rather than merely a new tactic. By working through all of the touch points of the customer focused business, the long term gains will certainly be worth the effort.

The acquisition of customers is paramount to the early and ongoing success of the organization, regardless of cost, as stated earlier. With front and back of the house working in tandem for and by the customer, the links are strengthened throughout the chain of service.

As in anything related to customers, there must be value delivered to them or the point is moot. The delivery of true value in the proposition will not only secure customers, but will improve the brand, and additionally make marginal increases in top line growth.

Through interaction, the deliverance of value and gaining valuable insights into the wants and needs of the customer base and improvements in service to the trouble spots that occasionally come up will be less stressful to overcome. This will create additional loyalty, and retaining the customer will become a natural part of the evolution. Along with dedicated, loyal customers, referrals will become much easier to request and more freely offered by customers.

This is not a panacea, however. Along the transformation, there will be roadblocks, old mentalities, and shifts in perception and down right resistance to change. However, with the ever-increasing global interaction of business, change is inevitable. Those enterprises that embrace the customer-centric mantra stand a much better chance overcoming their competition, gaining new niche markets and having a fast, sleek to market approach to business and therefore, creating lasting success.

For additional information on entrepreneurs and emerging enterprise advice and coaching, see my blog at:, or email me at

For more information, please visit David's TNNWC Bio.

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