‘The customer is always right’, espoused the legendary retail pioneer, Henry Gordon Selfridge who founded the Selfridges Department Store in 1809 in London.
Of course anyone who has worked in retail can tell you that this is not always the case! They are often misinformed, confused etc!
Nevertheless, the spirit of this phrase is the key to the philosophy behind it, that success comes from satisfying the needs of the customer, without whom you do not have a business!
Selfridge was a pretty smart bloke and he went on to devise his ‘Five Rights’ philosophy of marketing effectiveness.
This applies not just to retailing, but to just about every business, whether you sell products or provide services.
Selfridge said it was all about these ‘rights’ :
1. Getting the ‘right’ goods…(written for retail products but also applies to services)
2. To the ‘right place’...(where they can gain access & how they are displayed)
3. At the ‘right’ time...(when the customer is ready to buy – think about what is current & topical – eg fads)
4. At the ‘right price’…(too expensive = shop elsewhere; too cheap = no confidence)
5. In the ‘right’ quantity.(ideally enough to satisfy demand – too little = dissatisfied customers; too many = money tied up in dead stock)
I would add a sixth ‘right’ – the ‘right’ quality
Now you might think that you already knew all of the answers to these questions when you started in business – well congratulations…
… but when was the last time you got feedback on this?
You may think that you know it all but customer surveys and staff surveys can certainly give you some great feedback on well you are really tracking in terms of satisfying your customers.
The big question is : Is your business ‘market driven’? (In other words are you trying to dictate to the market and give your customers what you think they want and need, or are you listening to them and giving them what they say they want and need?)
‘The only constant is change’
Heraclitus –Greek philosopher
‘Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one’.
Voltaire – French philosopher
So, whatever systems you use to gain feedback, whether it’s marketing surveys, customer service feedback forms or something else, remember that as society is constantly changing and progressing, so too must your business.
When I began my tourism business in 1996, very few of my guests had a mobile phone and most used the pay phone. Most businesses did not yet have a website.
If guests wanted to send a message to relatives back home, they would write a letter by hand and fax it. By 2010, almost all of them had a mobile phone and most of them had a laptop, a notebook or an I-pad or equivalent.
The lesson here is that in business, the expectations of your customers will change and you need to change with them.
My philosophy is that, ‘In business, if you are not moving forwards, you are slipping backwards’.
Remember to keep an open mind and not get upset when you start asking questions – you may not like all of the answers that you get.
Make a decision to adopt the viewpoint that…
‘Criticism is the feedback we need so we can improve and grow’.
Bear in mind that everyone filters their opinions based on their outlook on the world, so it is valid for them.
It is then up to you to assess whether it is valid for you in the context of helping you or hindering you from achieving your goals.
As an example, most customers would love it if you were to reduce your prices because that’s better for them!
That doesn’t necessarily mean that you should, but if everyone is telling you that your competitors are much cheaper, then you’d have to take some notice!
If you need any help, don’t hesitate to call or drop me a line.
Until next time, make good things happen!