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Help create value for others

March 31, 2014

As a small-business owner, what is your objective?

It is to separate your customers from a portion of their money. That is the bottom line. You found a service or product they want or need and you will sell it to them for a price. They have what you want. You have what they want.

The catch is in the question: are you the only one from whom they can purchase that service or product? Chances are you have competitors. In recent articles, we have discussed competitive advantage. When we discuss competitive advantage with our clients, pricing often comes up as the advantage as does product or performance quality.

The reality is more often than not your competition can match you on price and performance. So how do you gain competitive advantage? You do it through outstanding customer service. It is about how well you make the customer feel about their purchase and about how well you take care of them after the sale.

Guy Kawasaki, a former marketing executive for Apple, says he has learned the core of entrepreneurship is about making meaning for customers. He goes on to say from his observations businesses that start out to make meaning for their customers succeed more often than those that just set out to make money. He said that for his time at Apple, his and Apple’s whole objective is to enrich the lives of Apple customers.

I recently purchased a used vehicle from a dealership. The eager young salesperson did a good job in giving answers I wanted to hear. Before I make my final decision to purchase a car, I have to feel like I can trust the salesperson and the dealership will take care of any problems and me that arise out of the sale.

They built that trust and I purchased the car. Ultimately, an issue arose from the purchase that the dealership handled poorly. The impression left with me was they were there to make money from the customers and not meaning for their customers.

Most businesses need to build repeat customers. Customers do not always return to businesses where they do not feel appreciated. When you make a customer feel appreciated and special, you have created meaning. When you have quickly and efficiently handled a customer complaint, you have created meaning. When you empower your staff to handle customer complaints you have created meaning.

When you create meaning for your customers, you are creating value. When your customers value you as a business, they will pay more to get their product or service from you. How often have you heard someone say, “Well, they charge a little more than the rest, but they stand behind what they sell?” That business has value because they created meaning and took care of their customers.