How to Run a Customer-Centric Business

A customer-centric business is one that puts its customers first, no matter what. Here are some helpful guiding principles for businesses that want to make customers their number one priority.

Running a small business is tough. It’s likely that you have a zillion different things going on in any given moment. You may be juggling multiple projects, managing different ventures, and running a bunch of different departments. The second you take your marketing hat off, it’s time to put your accounting hat on. With so many plates spinning, it can be easy to forget the reason you started this thing in the first place – to help your customers.

A customer-centric business is one that puts its customers first, no matter what. Customer-centric businesses are able to save time and money because they spend less time looking for new customers and more time building relationships with the customers they already have. These businesses make decisions with their customers in mind. They’re passionate about serving their target market, and they want to serve in ways that go far beyond improving their bottom line.

A customer-centric business operates on the following principles:

Listen more than you talk

You have a great idea for a new product. It has bells and whistles. It’s bigger, faster, better than its predecessor. You can’t wait for your customers to try it because you think they’re going to love it!

But when you launch the product, no one’s buying. Why? Because you weren’t listening to your customers. Even if you think a product is really cool and your customers should want it, that doesn’t mean they do want it.

Find out what your customers really want, and then solve that need or problem with your product. Do market research, create surveys, read blogs and forum posts, or pick up the phone and start dialing.

By basing your business on what your customers truly want, as opposed to what you think they should want, you’ll begin to reap the benefits of true customer service.

Do whatever it takes to make it right

The order didn’t ship. The soup was cold. The website design doesn’t match their specifications.

When you disappoint your customer, you have an incredible opportunity to win them back for life by doing whatever it takes to make it right. Spending a few dollars now to fix a mistake can make you thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the customer relationship – that is, if you can get them to stay.

So replace the broken lamp for free. Give them free shipping for six months. Do whatever it takes to fix the problem and prove to your customer that their patronage matters to you. When you go above and beyond, your customer feels valued and their loyalty grows.

Focus on “the why”

The customer-centric business owner knows that the purpose behind their business is not making money. Revenue is simply a by-product of service. When you know why you’re serving your customers, as opposed to just what you’re serving them, you connect with customers on a human level. That connection is the priceless, irreplaceable X factor that can never be replicated by the competition.

What makes your business customer-centric?

Image via Flickr

On-the-Go Accounting with Outright & Shoeboxed

As an entrepreneur who is always on the go, Sean Ogle needed a simple and mobile way to keep up with bookkeeping and accounting. He found a solution in using Shoeboxed and Outright. Check out this User Success Story for details on Sean’s paperless, moving target lifestyle!

With Shoeboxed, there has never been one “best” way to use our service to stay organized. And after processing over a billion dollars of expense data since 2007, we say that from years of firsthand experience!

Shoeboxed takes enormous pride in serving clients from around the country and across the globe, all of whom use our service in a myriad of ways to fulfill a whole host of organizational needs in both their personal and professional lives.

“I travel 3-4 months out of the year, so to be able to use Shoeboxed anywhere in the world has allowed me to stop stressing as much about record keeping and focus more on the business itself.”

-Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle 1Introducing: Sean Ogle

Profession: Business builder

Location: Everywhere!

Website: www.seanogle.com

Twitter: @seanogle

Shoeboxed: Hi, Sean! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us. Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself and your business.

Sean Ogle: Sure! My name is Sean Ogle and I’m the creator of a site called Location 180. The site is all about teaching people how to build lifestyle businesses that allow them to work from wherever they want and generally do more of the stuff they like to do.

In keeping with this theme all of my small businesses are around my interests: Entrepenurship, photography, and most recently, golf.

SBX: Sounds awesome! Have you always wanted to run your own business? How did you get started?

sean ogle headshotSO: I’ve always known I’d wanted to be an entrepreneur. This started in college when I did everything from selling concert tickets, to having my own house painting business, to making t-shirts.

About two years into my job as a financial analyst I realized I wasn’t getting any closer to having a real business of my own. So I left, moved to Thailand for seven months and started learning how to build businesses online.

SBX: Wow! That’s quite a change of pace. So now that you’re doing what you want to do, tell us your favorite part of your job, and the most stressful.

SO: My favorite part is the flexibility. I can work whatever hours I choose, and if a cool opportunity comes up I’m usually able to take advantage of it. That said, income can certainly ebb and flow. So the most stressful times are the ones where sales slow down and you’re wondering if they are ever going to start up again!

SBX: That’s definitely something all small business owners face! Another challenge is dealing with finances. What did you do with all your documents before Shoeboxed? How did you stay organized before using our service?

SO: Ha, I wasn’t that organized before your service. I had a giant pile of receipts that I had to sort through during tax time, and I’m sure I missed plenty of them.

SBX: Well, we’re certainly glad you found us! How did you hear about Shoeboxed and decide to take the plunge?

SO: A couple friends of mine started a site called Taxreceipts.com, and they told me about the service. One of them is a tax attorney and gave me a little scolding on how I needed to keep better track of my receipts – I’ve been using Shoeboxed ever since!

SBX: Tell them thanks on our behalf! :) So now that you’re a regular user, can you tell us about how you use Shoeboxed to manage your business?

SO: Sure. I almost completely rely on the Shoeboxed Receipt & Mileage Tracker on my smartphone. Once a receipt goes in my pocket, there’s no telling when, or if, it will be seen again. Shoeboxed makes it so easy to take a photo right after every meal or purchase, and know that it’s all stored in one place for whenever I need it.

I also manage my books with Outright, so the fact that Shoeboxed works with Outright is a nice bonus.

SBX: Awesome! We’re glad to hear you’re taking advantage of one of our partner integrations. Can you tell us a bit about the value you’ve found in Shoeboxed? Maybe you could elaborate about how we fit into your business and lifestyle.

Sean Ogle - Location 180SO: No problem! I try to be paperless everything, so to be able to take something that has traditionally always been about paper and send it to the cloud is really important for me. I travel 3-4 months out of the year, so to be able to use Shoeboxed anywhere in the world has allowed me to stop stressing as much about record keeping and focus more on the business itself.

SBX: That’s fantastic– we’re honored that we can help your business grow! Okay, last question. Do you have any helpful tips for our users or small business owners that are trying to get organized?

SO: Don’t wait until the last minute. In the past I’d do an entire year’s worth of organizing the week before tax day. Spend a 20 minutes a week making sure everything is accurate, and you’ll be much happier in the long run.

SBX: That’s great advice, Sean, and thanks again for taking the time to chat with us! We’re thrilled to be a part of your small business owner on-the-go lifestyle.

Are you a Shoeboxed user who has a success story and would like to be featured on our blog? Then we would love to hear from you! Please reach out to Emily at emily@team.shoeboxed.com for more information.

Until then, stay tuned… and stay organized!

Refer New Customers & Get Up to 100% off a Shoeboxed Premium Plan!

You asked for a better incentive to invite your friends to Shoeboxed, and we heard you loud and clear! With our new referral program, for every referral you send us you’ll receive 10% off a Premium Plan of your choice for an entire year. Refer 10 friends and earn a year of free service. It’s that easy!

Today, we’re thrilled to announce our new referral program, which enables you to get a Shoeboxed Premium Plan for free for a year!

We listened to your feedback and came up with a better incentive for you to invite your friends and contacts to Shoeboxed.

It’s simple: Whenever one of your referred contacts signs up for a Premium Plan, you’ll receive 10% off your own plan for an entire year. And guess what — so will your friend! And if you refer ten friends that sign up for a Premium Plan, your Shoeboxed plan will be completely free for a year!

Shoeboxed Referral ProgramIt’s easy to get started: Just click the box in the bottom right of your Shoeboxed account, aptly titled Your Account Could Be Free. From there, a widget will pop up that allows you to refer contacts via email, Facebook, Twitter or your custom referral URL. Invite as many people as you like, anytime!

It’s painless to track: Once you’ve sent your invites, just visit the widget to see how many of your referred contacts have signed up for a Premium Plan. You’ll be able to track which contacts signed up, how much of a discount has been applied to your monthly payment, as well as how many new referrals you need to receive your Shoeboxed plan for free.

Why wait? Refer a friend to Shoeboxed to receive 10% off today!

If you have any questions about our new customer referral program, give us a shout at help@team.shoeboxed.com or 24/7 on Twitter at @ShoeboxedHelp.