Sometimes the desire to make profits in a business can cause business leaders to overlook a foundational principle of business: meeting customer needs. In theory, businesses operate by providing a service or a product that fills a gap in the market. Obviously, if there's no demand for the service or product that a business provides, it won't sell. Also, businesses are not necessarily created to be charities. After all, the executives, technicians, sales representatives, etc., all want and need a paycheck. The purpose of stressing customer needs is not to say that a business owner should ignore his own needs and the needs of those who work with them in order to satisfy the customer, but rather to acknowledge that by focusing on the process of pleasing the customer, the result of increased profits is bound to happen.
For example, the food industry relies on the ability to market food products in an attractive and convenient way. Grocers have the need to display shelf-storage items, refrigerated items, and even hot items if they have a deli or small restaurant to provide prepared or take-away food for their customers. To those businesses which build hot food displays, or refrigerated displays, it's vital that they understand what a specific grocer needs in order that the grocer desires their product. In other words, if the food display company wants to sell their highest profit margin product, but that product does not meet the needs of the customer, or cannot be physically installed without investing additional resources to remodel the store, it's not likely that the customer will buy. This example is admittedly facetious, but it illustrates the principle of listening to the customer's needs, and working to meet them.
Perhaps the most important reason to meet customer needs is that in becoming the company that meets customer needs, customers become loyal to that company. Loyalty may be especially important in difficult economic times because customers will want to be more careful with their money. Yes it's impossible to quantify an abstract quality in a person like loyalty, but nonetheless it will cause customers to buy your products when they trust that you are looking out for them. When customers feel like they are being exploited in order to fill your coffers their trust wanes, and when they've little to spend, don't count on them spending it on you! The best way to keep them coming back again and again is ensuring that they come away knowing they've been treated fairly and gotten just what they need.
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