Put the customer first

Creating a customer-centric company is easier said than done. It's a concept every business owner wants to grasp but often doesn't. And, unfortunately, in tough economic times if you aren't giving your customers the most for their money, they likely won't think twice about leaving you for your competitors.

Becoming a customer-centric company requires taking a long look at your company and understanding what motivates your customers to buy from you instead of from your competitors.

The value chain

Many companies base their operations on the value chain model that was popularized by Harvard Business School Professor Michael E. Porter in the mid-1980s. The value chain, which is a string of critical processes intended to help companies understand how to create and sustain a competitive advantage, describes how a product or service should travel through an organization's various value-adding activities (including inbound logistics, production, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and services) and eventually be delivered to a happy customer.