Understanding the needs of your customers, coworkers, sponsors, investors, and other important people in your business life is important. Central to this understanding is the idea of Creating Value. Creating Value is at the core of our professional lives, and is the foundation of our ability to prosper and achieve our goals. A rule of thumb that I use in my organization is the “Rule of Three”, and I quote it often for my team. It goes like this–
There are three levels of success with a customer:
At the first level, they believe you can do the job. No more, no less. They have a need, and believe that you can fulfill it. That is good – however there are likely many other people in their world that qualify in that way to earn their business. We want to achieve more than that, so we look for how we can do better.
At the second level, your customers know you can do the job, and actually have great confidence that you can do it well. This is better, and an important step in the right direction. Still, there is room here for your customers to look elsewhere the next time they need the service you provide, so we have more work to do. Many companies, businesses, and entrepreneurs stop at this point, feeling satisfied that they are where they want to be. That is a huge mistake.
The third level is the ultimate place to be, and the objective of every project for highly successful teams: When customers know that (1) you can do the job, (2) that you can do it really well, and have come to the conclusion that nobody else can do the job as well as you can. This is as good as it gets for creating (and communicating!) value. At this point, customers will seek you out, invest in you, and be a repeat customer for what you have to offer. This is critical for service businesses and product companies where the cost of customer acquisition can be high — repeat business is the key to growth and profit.This is critical for executives inside companies because it is the only way to ensure continued access to the best projects, funds and resources.
The Rule Of Three
1 – The beginning of value: Your customers believe you can do it.
2- Climbing the mountain: Your customers know you can provide great results
3- The ultimate goal: Your customers believe you are the only one that can provide the results that they want
Level Three is the point at which you have crossed over the boundary separating customer and provider: Where your customers are aligned to your success because it is so directly in tune with their own goals. In the product world, certain brands (likeApple AAPL +2.80% and Nike) operate at this level with their core customers. Certain service providers do this as well — Ever see people waiting an hour to get a table at a restaurant? We see this in downtown Austin every day — customers at one particular hamburger joint waiting outside for an hour or more in 100 degree heat. They do so for a reason– they can get a hamburger for less money and in less time at over 100 other places but they don’t! They do the work and vote with their feet at the most crowded place because they believe that their particular need for a the best hamburger cannot be met anywhere else. In your professional life, accomplishing this is key. When your customers will go out of their way to work with you, to refer more work to you, to line up, to endorse you, recommend you, and come back again and again – you are truly successful.
Anything less means you can do better.
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