Creating a client-centered business
By Anne Bachrach
A.M. Enterprises (The Accountability Coach)
What is a client-centered business anyway? A client-centered business is a rather vague idea, but one that focuses on the needs of a client, as opposed to a conventional business model.
This isn’t a new concept. If you aren’t sure if you are totally client-centered or if you aren’t familiar with this concept, it is an important one to consider quickly implementing in your business.
How this business is precisely set up will depend on the type of clientele the company works with. Not all clients want the same thing from a place of business. For example, a retail store that is interested in a client-centered business would make sure their policies benefited the client, and devote most of the attention to price and warranty. On the other hand, an investment firm would focus on personalizing strategies and timely communication with their clients; price would not necessarily be the issue. Some companies may market their services to other businesses. Hence, their clientele would be expecting top-level expertise above everything else.
Planning for the market
Yes, there are some standards by which every business does try to live, regardless of industry. The most important principle is the company should provide a quality product or service at a fair price. There should be a high level of expertise involved in creating such a business, regardless of the market.
It does take some smarts to design saleable products that people want to buy even over the competition. A retail store must have accessibility to such expertise so that the owner can determine what inventory is worth carrying. Professional services are required to have an above average level of experience and knowledge in a given subject.
The most important principle in a client-centered business is that the highest quality of service or product is offered. If you are trying to start a business but feel you may not have the high level of expertise that would be expected of you, then you may want to find mentors, a partner or a consultant who can provide expertise when needed.
There has been a trend of working only with selective clientele recently. Isn’t the idea of business that you seek out as many clients as possible? Not necessarily. Companies have found that by targeting a specific audience and sticking to their plans, they report better overall success.
Why is this? Untargeted clients may not appreciate the marketing campaign.
They may also misunderstand what services the company is offering and be unsatisfied with the results. Worse yet, some clients may not have the funds necessary and may be deemed too risky to work with. Some companies have a relatively small or at least stable working environment and don’t have the resources to quadruple their client base. Instead of making impulsive decisions to expand their business right away, they follow a set course and plan for some long-term modifications if success continues. How to create a client-centered business
The most important prerequisite is that you research your market very well. Where do you get this information? You can learn it from books or you could consult marketing experts, and other successful business owners.
However, don’t forget the most important source of input: the client. After all, this is a client-centered business. That means that you are concerned with accommodating your clients, not building a self-centered or profit-first business model. It will help your business tremendously to survey some potential clients whether from your own contacts or from other informational resources.
Having a basic understanding of client negotiation helps. It generally is believed that the negotiating process starts with the client buying and the professional selling. However, once the client has decided to go with the service, then they are in a position of selling to you.
When it comes to negotiation, try to have two absolute figures in your mind as you begin — the highest amount your services are worth (without accelerating it beyond market research) and the lowest amount that you will accept from the client. If you sense hesitation, then the clients don’t understand the value they will get when they invest in your product or service or they would say yes. This might be an indication that you need to communicate the benefits even more so they quickly understand what is in it for them.
Use professionalism in closing a deal by finalizing all details (never leaving anything unclear) and by instilling the client with confidence.
Be careful not to oversell your services, especially after a deal has been reached. Resist the urge to overcompensate after the deal takes place since this could make you look nervous or even inexperienced in their eyes.
Client-centered businesses are eager to negotiate and to adapt their plans to whatever the client needs. Remember this above all else. When you go with this business model you are in business for their benefit, and the more money they make (courtesy of your expertise), the more you will make.