Go Back To Your Customers: The Secret Sauce For Startup Success

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Mar 16, 2016

There’s a lot of conversation during the entire day…about startups, funding, teams and other things. I think what everyone should aspire to (do is to) solve the customers’ problems (rather) than thinking about just raising funds. Startups think of solving consumers’ issues; investment would follow in its wake. ~Nikesh Arora, Chief Operating Officer, Softbank, India

Starting a startup is hard because you are not only developing a product or service, but also managing all the business needs like finding a place to work that isn’t your parents’ basement, managing a team, working hard to pay your bills etc. You probably spend a lot of time putting out fires and refining your product. Once everything is stable, you may be unsure of how to proceed.

The customers of your business, particularly the early adopter group, can play an important role here to improve your business. You should provide chance to your customers to tell you about their need. If you listen to your customers then they can be your great source of learning. Your customers can provide you ‘great consultation service’ without any payment.

The age of customization 

Now-a-days customers demand personalized attention from companies. Consumers want to interact with companies whenever they want. If you want to build a loyal customer base and spread positive word of mouth advertisements about your brand then you must create a ‘customer focus’ culture in your firm.

Normally, at the time of starting a business entrepreneurs don’t spend significant amount of dollars in marketing a product which isn’t fully realized or ready for the market. In this situation, early adopters can play an important role by bridging the gap.

Entrepreneurs should observe who are using their product and service at early stage and interact with them to get feedback and suggestions. These valuable suggestions will help them to develop marketing strategy. The opinion of early adopters will also help entrepreneurs to prove whether they are in right track or not.

Developing a customer-centric approach 

Startups should give extreme effort to develop a customer centric culture. In an article titled ‘The Quest for Customer Focus’ Ranjay Gulati and James B. Oldroyd stated that customer-focused companies consistently embrace three concepts.

Although these concepts are developed from the experience of some large firms nevertheless these concepts are essential for the Startups to build a customer focused culture. These concepts are: First, learning about customers at the most granular level and creating a comprehensive picture of each customer’s needs—past, present, and future. Second, sharing what is learned about customers all over the firm. Finally, Utilizing this insight to guide not only for product and service decisions but also for basic strategy and organizational structure as well.

Generally in Startups the team is small. So, everyone should do at least a little bit of customer service, no matter what their job title is. The employees should feel that customers are the reason of their jobs, so they all should participate in customer service to say thanks.

Entrepreneurs should enable and enforce coordination between internal units at progressively more sophisticated levels, they should find new ways to manage the flow of information, they should develop routines for decision making that incorporate customer preferences, and, ultimately, they should shift the control of their customer-focused efforts away from a centralized hub to a more disbursed set of activities that spans the entire enterprise.

Entrepreneurs should give customer orientation top priority in their firm. They should leave an open seat in every meeting and at every company function for their customer. They must make it clear to everyone that customers have a say at the company. Highest efforts should be given to build a employee team who are enthusiastic to provide best customer service.

Generally in Startups, team is small. So, everyone should do at least a little bit of customer service, no matter what their job title is. The employees should feel that customers are the reason of their jobs, so they all should participate in customer service to say thanks.


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Mahamudul Hasan is Lecturer of Department of Marketing at Faculty of Business in Bangladesh University of Business and Technology. He holds BBA and MBA degree in Marketing from University of Dhaka. His research articles on Social Marketing, Cause Related Marketing, Garments marketing, SME Marketing, Tourism Marketing and Consumer Behavior have been published in notable national and International Journals. The author has also written column for Financial Express, Bangladesh Shomoy and Newsok24.com.bd.

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