Valuing customers is more vital to business than you think
Rupert Lee-Browne, April 29, 2015
It’s a common mantra repeated by business leaders; we value our customers; they are key to our business; we would be lost without them. But is it really that important for business to be customer-centric?
As chief executive of Caxton FX, I can safely say that there is no way we would be where we are today without our customers, and for this reason, I firmly believe that customer service should be central.
The knock-on effects of consistently providing amazing customer service are quite significant, and are rewarding on both a personal and fiscal level. Predominantly customer service is essential for growth. We have found that when consumers are satisfied, they will recommend our business to others, enabling us to grow organically by word of mouth. This not only considerably reduces our cost of acquiring new customers, but also promotes brand loyalty. People who come to us via recommendations tend to be far more committed to the company than if they found us through advertising or online.
Secondly, being customer-centric is essential for business revenue. Profitability per customer will be far greater if they are treated well and as someone we would like to see again, rather than viewing them as a singular transaction and subsequently providing poor service.
However, customers can be even more financially supportive than you may think. Once you have built a relationship with them, you can ask for things in return.
In the case of Caxton, four years ago we needed to raise funds – something that we wanted to do without having to borrow from the banks and without selling equity. Instead, we went directly to our customers and offered them a new retail bond; essentially they would lend us money and we would offer a fixed return for four years. At the end of that period they would receive their money back. We did that in the first instance and it was extremely successful, so much so that we were able to launch a second bond in October last year, which was met with overwhelming demand. We raised £6 million in just two weeks – purely from our customers. Because we made customer service a priority, people trusted us enough to lend us their money.
For customer service to be a profitable element of your business, it needs to start at the top. The majority of the communication we have internally revolves around providing great customer service. If we receive positive customer feedback this is circulated to and celebrated with all staff.
Focusing on customers, whether they are someone who is buying currency with us, using our card or downloading our app, is something that is instilled within the entire business and is reiterated constantly.
While this starts with the chief executive or business owner, in order to ensure that customer service is an intrinsic theme within your company, you need to concentrate on the people in your business. It is essential that you only employ the very best, and invest time and money in managing, training, encouraging and, to a certain extent, incentivising employees to really look after customers. If you do this, your customers will always be served well and, as a result, your business will flourish.
Rupert Lee-Browne is CEO of Caxton FX