A Lesson Big Companies Can Learn From Entrepreneurs

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The golden rule of entrepreneurs is to treat your customers like gold.  Over 100 entrepreneurs we interviewed agreed. Don’t just deliver on your promises, but exceed your customers’ expectations.  Delight them.  Wow them!  Don’t take them for granted.  Never play fast and loose with their money.  And never, ever risk killing them.

It occurs to me that some of the biggest companies in the world have recently forgotten the golden rule. Here are a few examples.

Facebook never announced to their 800 million or so customers that they would change the default profile email addresses from those chosen by each customer to a new @Facebook email address no one had seen before.  They probably didn’t ask permission first, a very important aspect of the golden rule, because most customers would have said no or ignored them.  Perhaps not every customer was irate or even irritated by this, but customers were taken for granted and they know it.  Fissures in the trust people place in their preferred social networking service have begun.  Continued updates and changes that only help Facebook, rather than the customer, will result in customers becoming disenfranchised.  Could people really migrate to new social media networks?  Remember, replacing products like 35 mm film, encyclopedias and operator/directory services required brand new technologies.  New technology is not required to replace a social media service.

GlaxoSmithKline PLC, one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies, and their $3 billion settlement.  The company, whose website tag line is “Do more, feel better, live longer,”  promoted drugs for unapproved uses and failed to report data pertinent to the safety of other medications.  The company made $27.5 billion on three of the medications, so some argue that the settlement is nothing more than a cost of doing business.  Wait – compromising the health and well being of patients who use your products is the cost of doing business?  Isn’t there a business case to be made to keep your patients alive and well for as long as possible so that over their longer life spans you could sell them more medications?  And more to the point, are any of us checking our medicine cabinets to make sure we aren’t taking any drugs manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant?

Remember the golden rule.  Treat the customer like gold.  This is the number one growth strategy.  And big companies could learn a lot from you entrepreneurs!

All the best!


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