Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos founded his company in the garage of his house in Seattle in July 1994. Today, it is the third most valuable company in the world with a $576.8 billion market cap and Bezos is the richest man on the planet with a net worth of $99.6 billion as of this writing.
One of Amazon’s core values is a customer obsession. The Amazon website says that “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers.” This is a great philosophy for business success, and one that any startup or entrepreneur can use to grow their business to new heights.
Solicit feedback from family and friends
The first place to look for help optimizing your business for your customers is your biggest fan club: your friends and family. No matter what product or service you offer, talk to friends and family who fit your target demographic and ask them for candid feedback.
I start here for feedback on almost every project. Whether I ask my wife or parents for quick input, send it to a friend who is a good knowledge base for what I’m working on, or toss it onto Facebook for general feedback, I always start with friends and family. The only problem with getting help from this source is that they are sometimes a little overly positive to be supportive and protect your feelings. That is why it is important to look to friends and family as just one source of input, not the only source.
Try your product or service as a customer
Have you ever gone through the customer experience and actually tried what you’re selling? If not, you may be in for a big wakeup call. Try it out from the customer side, and take notes on every possible improvement and pain point along the way.
Don’t expect your customers to just “figure it out,” particularly if you run a web based business. Instead, take the time to review the customer experience, methodically find problems and iterate improvements, and always be looking to make your product or service better. Nothing is perfect. There is always room to improve.
Watch a customer try your product
One of the most eye opening experiences in building Money Mola happened when I sat down next to someone who had never tried the product and silently watched them go through the steps. When someone got stuck on step 2, I knew I had something to fix.
While you know how your product or service should work, it may not be obvious to your customers. If that’s the case, you may find sales lagging and goals missed. Make sure your product is painfully obvious. If it’s anything else, you might find your business operating in the red, or missing out on big opportunities.
Survey your customers
Nobody knows more about your customers than your customers. Have you ever asked them what they think about your product or service? If not, it may be time to ask some questions. You can setup a free survey online with a tool like SurveyMonkey, then blast that survey out to your email list to find out what your customers really think of you.
Your customers are already familiar with you and your business. They have some level of loyalty if they have already purchased from you, and if not, it is important to find out why. Make sure to ask the right questions to get helpful answers that you can turn into action to improve.
Find what works and repeat
There is a little secret in business that I’ve discovered over the years. Sometimes the way you want your business to work is not how your customers want your business to work. Rather than trying to force them into your business model, maybe you should update or pivot to make your customers happy?
When building my business, I thought I would have a giant, popular website filled with excited readers looking forward to buying the products I suggested. It turns out that didn’t work so well, but my blog did lead to opportunities to write for sites like this, and grew my business to new heights and record income while working fewer hours. If I did it, so can you!