USERS' CHOICE

Smart entrepreneurs let the customers vote

As an entrepreneur, your first job is to effectively serve your customers

In Summary

•You do not go seeking your customer’s vote with preconceived ideas

•Without an open mind, your chances of getting your customers’ votes are slim

Customers queue inside a KCB branch in Nairobi
Customers queue inside a KCB branch in Nairobi
Image: FILE

First things first: your business is not about you. Let’s be clear on that. Smart, successful entrepreneurs understand this truth and therefore, acutely focus on their customers. As an entrepreneur, your first job is to effectively serve your customers because you need their votes to stay in business. If your customers vote for your success by purchasing your product or service, you win. If they do not vote, you sink. Brilliant entrepreneurs work hard to obtain and sustain their customers’ votes.

You do not go seeking your customer’s vote with preconceived ideas. Without an open mind, your chances of getting your customers’ votes are slim. Your customers know and understand their own needs better than you. Therefore, humility is required to get the information that you need from your customers to enhance your business performance. So, how do you get and sustain the customers’ votes? Here are three tips. 

Create a Prototype: This is your first point of exchange. Here, you provide something for your customers to vote on. According to Wikipedia: “A prototype is an early sample, model, or release of a product built to test a concept or process.” It is not a finished product, but a working progress. It is a tangible touchpoint – a conversation starter. A prototype proves that your idea is valid because it can be seen, touched and felt.

Previously, entrepreneurs waited till they had a finished product to come to market – those days are gone. Now, entrepreneurs serious about winning their customers’ votes first make a prototype. This shows customers that the entrepreneur is interested in an ongoing conversation. A prototype proves that you care about your customers’ needs.

Run an Experiment: This is where the entrepreneur’s conversation with customers starts. Here, you give your prototype to your customers to use and give you feedback. At this stage, the back and forth between entrepreneurs and customers is the experiment. In the process, the entrepreneur seeks to know what customers think about their offering. The feedback gotten from customers helps the entrepreneur iterate until the idea meets the customers’ needs.

Learn from Customers: Your customers will vote for you with their wallets only if you meet their needs – and you successfully meet customers’ needs by learning from your customers. Learning is the essence of the experiment – this way you get your customers involved in the product development process. The idea is simple: if you build the product or service with your customers, you will get their votes.

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