On the recent occasion of a party for a friend, I was assigned the task of ordering a cake. I didn’t quite know what I wanted, but I trusted there was someone better at these things behind a bakery counter somewhere who could help bring my vision together.
I found one such counter that had a colorful assortment of designs and possibilities displayed in the case. Before I arrived, I had done my homework of brainstorming clever sayings and coming up with one that fit the occasion and was personal for my friend. All I needed was the expertise of a cake designer to customize it with the appropriate artwork.
My choices upon placing the order were “What size?” and “What do you want it to say?” And those two short questions later, my order form was filled out and ready for me to submit $35. Looking again down at all of the fun and whimsical designs in the display case, I wondered why none of those options were made available to me and just what my order would possibly look like with the two barebones pieces of information I had been asked to provide.
I asked about colors, as the party had a theme that the cake would need to fit. I was told my cake would be in two standard colors — white icing with black lettering — and if I wanted an additional color, it would cost extra. Clearly the person behind the counter, who even appeared to be the manager and quite possibly the owner, incorrectly assumed I was not interested in paying any more than I had to. In fact, I was quite ready and willing to pay extra for someone to lend expertise I did not have to create something special and unique. For some reason, I was the one having to ask what I could pay more for instead of being walked through the process of all of the bakery’s options and capabilities that were advertised in the case.
When we stand behind the counter day in and day out, it is possible to become so wrapped up in routine business that we forget what our counter looks like to potential customers and what they expect when they come to us. Customers pay a business because it promises to provide expertise. No matter what your business, we should all make a regular habit of approaching it from a customer’s perspective. What do they see that has led them to your door? What problem are they hoping you’ll solve for them? For what features or services would they gladly pay more if you could customize your product for their situation?
In this issue, we introduce 30 companies whose awareness of what their customers expect is evident. Posting anywhere from $1 million to $418 million in revenues the past year, these are the top performing companies in Micronesia and are some of the top employers as well. Their responses to our annual survey — the only study and analysis of its kind in the region — along with expertise from Deloitte &Touche’s Joe Arnett and ASC Trust Corp.’s David John, provide a unique gauge on the health of the region’s economy over the last year and a good indication of where it’s headed.
If you’re stepping up to the counter with any uncertainty on the business climate, we hope this comprehensive cover feature provides you the insight and expertise you hoped to find upon picking up our magazine.