Customer-centric hard work is at the core of that formula.
What is the secret behind consistent growth? How do some companies manage to thrive and grow throughout the ups and downs?
Is it a question of mindset? What can we learn from those companies that have achieved a pattern of stable growth throughout the decades?
Hard work, talent, dedication, commitment to excellence and even more hard work. These things – especially an unending supply of hard work – make up the not-so-secret formula used by companies that have attained consistent growth. On top of that, the leadership within these companies keeps a future-oriented mindset. "This business is being built for years – and generations – yet to come" is a much better leadership outlook than one that says, "I have built this by myself and for my own glorification right now."
But really, it's all about hard work. That's why the secret formula is really pretty obvious. We all know the value of hard work, and we all believe in it. Some of us even practice what we preach when it comes to hard work. But do you know exactly what hard work looks like? Have you ever realized that hard work takes many shapes and forms? Does your company – do you – work hard at everything you do?
Shortcuts are not hard work
Shortcuts look smart. They look efficient, easy, quick and painless. They offer a chance to deliver a higher volume with little or no extra effort. But they are not hard work. Working smart and keeping up with best practices is crucial to your product's quality, but it should never be the end you seek. The product's quality is all that matters; that, and your character, are all your customer will ever really see. Minimal effort work (i.e., work that's full of shortcuts) produces a minimal effort product. Minimal effort is what your competitors provide; inferior quality from others is what drove your customer to you in the first place. Reward their trust by taking the road less traveled. Working without compromise – without shortcuts – really will make all the difference.
Your pain is my pain
We're all familiar with the concept of a customer's pain points. Too often these days, businesses see pain points as places where they can gain leverage over a customer, where they can extract a bigger project at a higher dollar. Instead, you should see your customer's pain and make it your own. In the end, what are we doing for our customers? We're making life better for them. Ask yourself, before every decision, before every presentation, "Is this truly improving life for my customer? Am I making their business better? Am I really solving their problem?" If you can't answer with an emphatic "yes!", step back and take a closer look at what you're doing.
If you've really set out to make life better for your customer, you will inevitably find that your work just got harder. But that's a good thing, always. From a Manhattan high-rise to a commercial lighting company to world-class educational environments, you can always find ways to adopt your customer's pain as your own. See things through their eyes; feel their unique needs as if they were your own deepest longings. Employ your hardest work to deliver the solution that makes things better for the customer.
Rarity = value
Your hard work will make you valuable because it will make you rare. Technology and best practices are constantly evolving, constantly improving. Hours are being shaved off this process, days being cut from that project.
But the needs of our customers are constantly evolving as well, and the challenges we face are growing alongside those changing needs. That's why most of the top companies are using technology to gather more qualitative customer data, which informs decisions that are in the best interest of the customer. Companies are also having great success using personalized touchpoints throughout the relationship so that the customer truly feels like they matter. As many companies are doing more to reduce their time spent with customers, the growing companies are working hard to make sure that customers are being taken care of. Seems simple enough. The more you work hard at doing the simple things, the more your company will become a rare species.
There's no substitute for hard work. That's why it's so crucial. The harder your company works, the harder you will be to replace with a competitor. More hard work means you are rarer, and that rarity directly increases your value.