Sometimes in life we need a strong leader and mentor to pave the way to be an example for building a business.  A foundation that starts with exceptional customer experience, maintaining a healthy and balanced working experience, where people are the bottom line instead of money. Maybe it’s time to go back to the basics of having a great work ethic and a time where a handshake and staying true to your word was the order of the day. The main focus is to provide satisfaction and a great customer experience. About 50 years ago, you got one job and that lasted until you retired with a pension and benefits. Today we are lucky if we stay in one job for 10 years. Customer satisfaction has been replaced with only being concerned with the company’s profits. Small businesses have been replaced with big box stores or online shopping. I noticed airport stores are being replaced with vending machines.  My question is where have all the people gone?

 

I am starting to miss the human interaction.  My fondest memory was being raised on my grandmother’s farm in Barbados. Ma, as she is affectionately known, is the light and the fabric the holds our family together. Her cooking and baking filled the house with such a sweet aroma. All the ingredients for her sweet and savoury dishes came from her farm.  Ma grew the finest sugarcane crop on the island, raised chickens to sell their eggs, and raised livestock to be sold to the slaughterhouse. The property also had a lot of fruit trees including guava, pomegranate, oranges, pears, sugar apples, sour sop, bananas, cherries, golden apples, cantaloupe and limes.  The ground provisions were also plentiful. I also admired my grandmother for her business skills as she managed her farm, raised her children, grandchildren and looked after her aging/ailing parents. Her farm also produced in abundance to overflow and was profitable.  People came from all over the island to purchase her goods. She was in a position to barter, gave goods on credit knowing that person would keep their word to pay her when they could. It was more important to her that the person had food to eat. The success of her business was visible because her home was the first in the district to have running water, a water toilet, electricity, phone and television. This was all a bi-product of her work ethic and providing a superior product that keep people coming back for more.

Ma’s winning formula consisted of the following:

  1. Being kind to people
  2. Putting other people’s needs above her own
  3. Being consistent and reliable
  4. Knowing her product and services
  5. Knowing herself as a business owner who produces a good product
  6. Asking for help when she needed it
  7. Not listening to people’s negative comments about a woman running a farm on her own
  8. Not being distracted by her circumstances and never giving up
  9. Tapping into her faith and belief in God
  10. Being grateful for all she had and was able to provide for her family

 

Don’t get me wrong I am not saying that every aspect of business doesn’t work nor that some of the changes over the last 50 years have not been good.  I am saying we are moving away from the human interaction, personal satisfaction and values which create an experience for people that leaves them wanting more.

 

I think it’s time we start to put people’s needs first instead of the bottom line and pleasing the shareholder.  People are the true stakeholders for without them we would have not our businesses. If you are looking to expand your business, ask yourself: “Are my customers walking away from our interactions with an excellent customer experience?”  If the answer is no, look for what is missing and invest in transforming and elevating the level of customer service in your organization. Where can you add value to your product or services that will leave the customer blown away, such that they start referring everyone they know to you?  Get back to basics and watch your business flourish!

 

Written By: Fatima Gould