Take Care of Your Customers 

A recent exchange on social media: 

Original Post:  

My favorite business-building question: 

“What’s the one thing, that if I stopped doing today, would immediately destroy my business?” 

Now, instead of stopping, do ten times more of it. 



The only right answer is closing a sale 


My reply to the reply (with a thick layer of sarcasm probably not audible in written form): 

Or providing exceptional service to existing customers… 


My purpose is not to one-up the original reply, but if you’ll indulge a min-rant, I’ll provide some actionable tips… 

When I taught college students, I’d ask what the purpose of a business is. Any business…why would someone start a business? (This was a bit of a trick question exercise I borrowed from the great Peter Drucker.) Inevitably, an early answer was “to make money/profit.”  

I went on to ask the following question every time: how many businesses do you shop at or support because their Mission, Vision, or stated purpose is to enrich the owners or make a profit? Naturally, the answer was none.  

Then we identified the real purpose of starting any business: to create a customer by serving human needs through solving very real problems that enough people face to commercialize the solution. 

If the purpose of a business or an owner or a leader is to close a sale, make money, enrich themselves, or something similar, they’re probably going to fail. People see right through that crap and see them for the shysters they are. If your purpose, however, is to identify very real problems and develop meaningful solutions to those problems that you sell in a genuine effort to serve human needs and make peoples’ lives better, I can almost guarantee your success. Hence my thick sarcastic reply…stop serving your customers with excellence and you’ll fail. Stop closing sales and you’ll fail, too, yes, but you’ll fail faster if you close sales and provide no value. You’ll also succeed faster if you exceed customer expectations because they will become your loudest champions. 

Now, the actionable part…how? A few ideas of things the business owner, founder, leader, stellar employee, and just good person do to succeed: 

  • Understand thoroughly a real problem many people have (bonus points if you empathize with or also have this problem) 
  • Take time to study causes, paint points, and possible solutions to this problem 
  • Try your solutions, fail, iterate, learn, and document what works and doesn’t  
  • Once you have data on solutions that work, attract other people who want to solve those problems (i.e. marketing and sales) 
  • Support those “customers” in implementing the solutions you’ve discovered. Study their results, and document what works and doesn’t
  • Repeat 

 As we concluded the “purpose of a business” discussion in class, I shared that Drucker said that if the purpose of a business is to create a customer by solving a real problem to serve human needs, then there are really only two key business functions: innovation and marketing. 

What is my point in this rant/(hopefully) helpful post?  

Successful businesses serve others with excellence first and foremost. Every day, every time, every customer. What you create, sell, etc., barely matters. If you look for real problems that need real solutions and provide those with exceptional care and service, the innovation, the iterations, the marketing, the sales, and the success will take care of themselves. 


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