Customer Focus Versus Bottom Line
In the bail bonds business, we see two major philosophies at play. Some companies are intensely focused on the bottom line; when the day is done, they want their wallets full. Others are what we call “customer focused;” the bottom line is less important than offering services to people who need them.
Both of these systems are valid, make no mistake.Our purpose in this blog post is to examine why a business would choose customer focus over immediate financial gain.
First, when customers come first, you are able to form an emotional bond with him or her. That is not a form of manipulation, although some might use it that way. A connection makes people feel more at ease, and enriches communication.
In bail bonding, easing apprehension is a kindness. When we encounter a potential customer, they are in one of the most stress-filled situations they can experience. Many people do not deal with tense situations well, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Allowing them a moment to breathe helps them make better decisions about moving forward.
A calmer client benefits everyone, including their legal representation and family members.
Here’s are hidden benefits for the business owner, to. You feel better about yourself, your stressful day improves, and so does your productivity.
Take a look at this article on Forbes, it is a great example: http://www.forbes.com/sites/sundaysteinkirchner/2012/08/22/5-ways-to-improve-your-customer-service/ It is easy to see how these five things do as much for you as they do for customers.
Second, making the customer first is one of the best methods of relationship-building there is. I’ll admit, this is awkward to discuss when it comes to bail bonds, because we hope we don’t see a client a second time. Yet, people choose to engage in criminal activity even after going through the legal system once. When the time comes, if it is a choice between a bail agent they don’t know, and one they do, they’re much more likely to work with someone they know. This is equally true in other service businesses.
Perhaps, even more important than return customers is how likely they are to speak about their experience with you in a positive manner. Even in the world of social media review websites like Yelp!, word of mouth is absolutely central to growing your business. People talk, and a friend’s good experience with a company means a lot.
Don’t think I’m downplaying social media:it is vitally important to growing your business. I often wonder if people see it for what it is: a simple human behavior mapped onto new technology, with enormous reach. People desire connection with other people. We want, and need, friends. It is simple as that.
Social review sites offer a form of connection at a distance. It works a little like this: a reviewer has a need or an interest I share, and reviewed where they went, so I might be able to rely on what they say. If there are more reviewers who say the same things, that enhances the value of the ratings. In short, it increases the likelihood that I will reach out to the business.
Here’s a secret: this is still word of mouth, using new communication methods.
Third, customer first philosophy also extends to how you work with associated businesses. In my case, the associates are often lawyers. It creates a bond between us, just like it does with people who are in need of bail bonds.
When I know I can rely on a lawyer, or a law firm, I am more likely to recommend them, and vice versa.
Positive interactions lighten our emotional load, too. I’ll be honest, many of the lawyers I know operate under great stress. They are incredibly motivated to assist the client and help them navigate the criminal law system. This is not an easy thing to do in any way, shape, or form.
Success follows customer focused business, but the payoff is in the long haul. Keeping your eyes on relationships, building them, and communicating well, will allow you to grow. Growth equals the potential for higher income, but not at the cost of the customers, or your core values.
Bottom line focus pays off at the expense of building relationships…unless you focus your relationship building on associated companies that work the same way. This makes the customer a number, a number with a dollar sign in front of it. People do not like to feel like a number when their emotions are running high.
We choose the other path because it serves everyone well and allows us to work towards our larger goal of serving the whole community.
When you’re a businessman, consider these questions. What is your greater goal, and how will you reach it? What matters to you?
We know what matters to us, and make that choice with our eyes open everyday.