Recently, I was called upon for a consulting opportunity in one small business. Their major problem was to acquire new customers. Due to recession, they were getting less businesses from their existing customers. And that’s why they were very entusiastic in acquiring new customers to survive. This business problem kept me thinking about today’s businesses. For first few days, I didn’t have any answer. I was asking myself, how can you make a good customer base? how can you create demand? how can you establish a recession proof business? And I looked at my iPhone and realized that there are few companies (Apple), which are creating huge demands for their products even in this economic crisis.
Those days are gone when we used to manufacture a product and hope that someone will buy it. If businesses wants to be successful in the 21st Century then they need to have customer centric business approach. The key to your business future is – how can you create an extraordinary customer experience for people? What can you do to delight your customers, so that they will decided to do business with you again? Well, I am not a business creation expert by any means, but here are three simple ways to create a business like Apple.
Make your employees love your company: Great companies are always built by great employees. The key to an extraordinary customer experience is to make sure that the people in your company, who don’t want to be there go somewhere else. You only want employees who wants to work in your company, instead of people who just wants to cash their paycheck on every week. If you can create an employee base like this then they will focus on doing something that they like, and you can focus on your customers. Wouldn’t you want your customers to hear that – your company is a great place to work?
Quality is more than you think: The bookish definition of quality is – your product or service conforms the customer’s standards and requirements. But I would define quality as customer experience and more. We should always deliver a product/service which not only meets customer’s standards but exceed them. I am not saying that you should over build your product, but make sure to act as a user of that product when its ready. Ask yourself a question – will you buy your product if you were a customer? If you ask me, Apple had done a really good job of maintaining its quality. And that might be the major reason for creating a loyal customer base.
Make everything work for your customer: I really love to visit Apple retail store. And I am always amazed by seeing the crowd in the store. The key is in their service. They have revolutionized the retail computer industry by providing on-site training classes, amazing customer service, and friendly environment. Their sales people will always help you in integrating your new Apple product with your other products, so they actually work together as one package. What a concept! Customers today are more impatient than ever. Thus, any business that offers to serve its customers faster immediately becomes the preferred supplier, even at a higher price. So, make everything work for your customers, and you can also create a business like Apple.
I hope my article was helpful, and I am eager to hear your feedback. Thanks. – Bhavin Gandhi
March 14, 2011 at 9:46 PM
Your heart might be in the right place, as Apple is a great company to learn from, but you’ve misinterpreted the way Apple gets things working. You are on the right track with quality, but along with keeping, maintaining, and always aiming for a high standard, you need to remember some of the tradeoffs. One key one is to not overfill with features. The more features you attempt to cram in, the more that needs to be kept to that high standard. At some point, it’s just not possible.
Instead, keep in mind what you are trying for, and what the user is likely to do. For instance there might be a way in the GUI to do all that 99% of your users might want, but in Apple’s case there’s the command line there waiting for those that really want to run UNIX commands.
By doing such Apple maintains it’s focus, and can make a computer that is a better fit for many out there, while not trying to be everything for everyone.
As far as making your employees love your company, that’s really a complex thing. It’s a lot easier when you are small and have high paying jobs, but once you cross into having tech phone support and retail employees, you lose a lot of that control. While most many look great, I’ve read plenty of posts to show that 100% of Apple’s employees are not completely satisfied. But really, 100% is not an obtainable goal.
Instead, like many tech companies they try to give the perks that matter most to their employees in hopes of making it worth it. When I worked there the perks were nice, but I also enjoyed my work so much that there were times I would have done it for free. And that’s when things are really hitting on all cylinders, when you can push your employees and they excel.
All is not perfect in Apple land, but they do such a great job at so many things that it often makes outsiders stare in amazement…and wonder how they can hope to mimic it and stamp out a clone without really understanding the underlying process.
March 15, 2011 at 10:36 AM
I really appreciate your detailed response to my blog. I understand that there will be many trade-offs for improving quality and making people happy.
Of course all is not perfect, but we can follow some basic guidelines to make our business best in comparison with our competitors.
Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi
July 24, 2014 at 1:05 PM
The only way to make your company like Apple is to have an amazing marketing department…they do innovative stuff in tech but there are lot others who do the same but do not get the same fan following. It has nothing to do with customer obsession or talent in team or employee happiness blah blah!!!
August 6, 2014 at 1:43 PM
@Darshan: I do agree. No matter which company do you work for, you need to be able to manage your company’s perception through bold marketing campaign. But, as you rightfully pointed out, innovation is the key for any company to thrive in the competitive market. Unfortunately, I do not agree with your views on talented team, customer obsession, etc. In order for a company/business to remain competitive, they have to have the best talent out there, and they should put their customers first.
Thanks – Bhavin Gandhi