I saw this on Richard Branson’s blog.
“A business plan is only as good as one’s first contact with a customer. You have to make a good impression, or you may lose them for good … Having said that, every contact with a customer is extremely important, and lasting customer relationships are built upon years of good connections between businesses and customers. Treat every contact like it is the first impression.”
By Richard Branson. Founder of Virgin Group
Richard Branson is a serial entrepreneur, the founder and chairman of Virgin Group which includes more than 400 companies. Coincidentally he has the same birthday as me, July 18. He has been very successful because he cares about quality and providing a great customer experience.
Here’s what he says about the American airline industry.
“I mean, it’s strange because in America you’ve got fantastic hotels, great restaurants, but the airline industry just has not gone out to make sure that every single person that flies on those planes [gets] a wonderful experience. And the good thing about that is that leaves room for an airline like Virgin America to emerge.”
And about his brand, Virgin.
“People think of Virgin — if they hear that Virgin’s going into a new area, they know that the quality will be good, that we’ll do it in a fun way, that we’ll give good value for money. And so it gives us a leg up when we go into a new venture. People already [trust] us, and they’ll give us a try and, generally speaking, people seem to like what they find.”
What have we learned from these quotes from one of the most successful business people on the planet?
- That everything about your company (as captured in the business plan) culminates in the experience of the customer
- That while first impressions are important, years of good connections create successful relationships
- That he and his companies build their brand on a quality customer experience,
- That the public now trusts Virgin to provide a quality, fun and valuable experience all the time which makes his ventures successful before they even launch.
You will find out how to create this in your business in my new book The Customer Loyalty Playbook, 12 Game Strategies to Drive Improved Results in Your Business. Building this kind of brand is not just an add-on program or a customer care position in your company. Generating a sustained customer focus is built into the company from the inside out.
The organizational chart includes the customer. There is great care in identifying the target customer and each employee has a good understanding of the characteristics, needs, wants, lifestyle and buying habits of that target customer. Products and services are created to meet the needs of that customer. An experience is designed detail by detail based on the preferences of that customer. Employees are selected, developed and trained to enhance and connect with every customer with whom they interact, which is a lot different than training an employee to handle a mindless transaction.
If it works for Richard Branson, does it work for you? Would you gain anything by examining your priorities in how you run your business? Could you reallocate where you spend your money and time to grow your company to be more like a Virgin company? I can be of service. Please contact me.
Please share with our readers any experiences you’ve had with any of the Virgin companies.