A business is a total make up of people – the cleaner, receptionist, the GM and even the impending customer. Depending on the environment of a particular business, it could be profitable or even worse, “close up show”.
For a country like Nigeria, global statistics currently claims that the ease of doing in the domain is excruciatingly D-I-F-F-I-C-U-L-T. Recent data shows that Nigeria has dropped from between a rank of 179 – 180 in the world to a position far closer to the bottom.
In other words, for a simple business owner in the domain, more costs and possible less profits. And if the business owner attempts innovative solutions to making profits, there is a strong chance that there might be less satisfied customers. The dilemma in a country like Nigeria in this current economic quagmire can be a bit daunting for all business owners – either large or small. Yet, business owners need not ‘close up show’, at least not until they have found a better and more secured investment.
I recently did a research on how today’s big businesses have managed to survive economic recessions and have continue to compete effectively with newer brands. So far, one word is key: EXPERIENCE. Experience not as in how many years an individual has garnered working at a particular field of service or skill, but experience in terms of quality delivery of service to each customer, both internal and external.
Intelligent brands have developed a few things deliberately to ensure each customer is compelled sub-consciously to launch or re-launch a conversation with the business (a conversation in this sense could be a business inquiry, transaction or some other business related activity). Below are a few things we learnt from those intelligent brands;
- Culture. Nothing rocks better than culture. The best brands that remain profitable even in an economic recession always have a defined culture. Google realized to serve customers best, you need to serve the employees better. So all internal customers at Google matter, and therefore results in a great products to the external customers.
- Personable Customer service. During the 2008-9 global recession, one of the few companies that surged through was Groupon. The company sends out daily email discounts for local businesses, managed to quickly spread to over 35 countries and 300 markets in its first two years, creating a $500 million annual profit. Groupon made a business of providing consumers access to all of the non-essential products they desire in a desperate time and made a profit. The company had the guts to even pass on a buy-out offer from Google.
- Precise product/service offerings. In 2009, the peak of the recession, Netflix gained 3 million members. This was due to their new tv/movie streaming plan, which allowed subscribers to stream an unlimited amount of entertainment a month, along with their disc-delivery service. Also, by adding a variety of price plans and different services, Netflix became notable for what they did.
- Brand recognition. What do people know your brand for? Can a customer beat their chest for your brand? For football lovers, we know hiring Mourinho as a coach means prepare for aggressive offensive-defensive midfield football, while hiring Guardiola means prepare for aggressive offensive tik-tak football.
Citigroup in 2008 had a 8.9% growth in assets, thus becoming one of the only banks that grew since a recession in 2008-9. This growth as seen by experts is due to efforts in quality services and brand recognition.
Lastly, go the extra mile.
Value Sharing. Value sharing is the best and easiest way to build long-lasting relationships with your customers. It dictates that you not only kick start interactions with a customers but you also promote interactions among your customers (and it better be positive conversations.
Lego, the global toymaker during the recession in 2008-9 did something creative that helped the company earn a 63% profit. The company realized that it had left out key conversations with their Asian and European market, so they creative stimulated interactions by “pushing” an interview where British soccer star David Beckham admitted he was building a Lego Taj Mahal during his down time, and afterwards sales soared – proof that sometimes free celebrity endorsement is the best profit boost of all.
On a sad note, my visit to KFC eatery in Lagos was a terrible experience. The service was bad, the food packing was awful, the environment was ‘dead’ and worse, their price plan was no way commensurate with their product offering.
Any business can make a profit and keep at it, by building trust and a relationship with each customer – both internal and external.
…and we’ll live purplly ever after.