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How a Billionaire Takes Time to See the World Through the Eyes of His Customers

November 10th, 2011

Mark Cuban, a self made billionaire owns among other assets the Dallas Mavericks, the 2011 NBA Champion Team.  He bought the franchise in 2000 from Ross Perot for $285 million.  According to Forbes, it’s now worth $438 million. Here’s what he did to add a cool $153 million to his net worth which now stands at about $2.5 billion and some thoughts on what you might do for your firm and your clients.Immediately after acquiring the franchise Cuban set about working on the “experience” the team’s supporters had when attending games.

His goal was to understand what experience the “average” fan had when attending the game so that he could identify what needed to be improved to enhance the value they got for their ticket price. Cuban’s business philosophy is simply to create the best possible experience for his customers in all of his businesses.

I read about this in the November 2011 (page 40) edition of Success Magazine which I devour every month.  It’s by far my favorite source of business building ideas.  I even rank it ahead of Accounting Today for inspiration and content.  This is how the magazine article described how Cuban created an additional $153 million in value:

… rather than hanging out in the owners box, he tried to catch games in a variety of locations within the arena. He sat in the nosebleed seats to get a feel for what the view was like, if there were any obstructions, if the scoreboard was visible. He sat courtside to see if the seats were comfortable, the leg room sufficient, the noise level good. And he sat just about everywhere in between, counting how many times vendors passed by and and how convenient the various amenities were. He also stood in line for concessions, timing each wait and evaluating the quality of each product when he received it. He used the public restrooms to make sure they were kept clean and were sufficient to meet demand.

He then acted on what he found. For example, new scoreboards were installed so that the view was blocked from any seats in the stadium and new practices were put in place to improved the efficiency of concessions.  Getting into the detail and seeing the world through the eyes of customers is his mantra.  He makes the point that “… if you aren’t a customer of your own business, you are fooling yourself if you think you fully understand the customer’s needs.”

This article reminds me of the critical importance of regularly doing Customer Advisory Boards for your firm and your clients.  This, together with “blind shopping” is a a fantastic way to gather invaluable information and ideas that can dramatically change the fortunes of a business.  Customers generally don’t complain about little sources of annoyance, they just don’t feel much loyalty.  Loyalty is reflected by an improvement in the frequency with which customers deal with you, in the customer defection rate and in your customers acquisition rate.  A single metric that will keep you appraised of how your business is performing on the loyalty front is Fred Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score.

If you want to quickly and easily help your clients run a better business.  Help them see it through the eyes of their customers (do likewise for your own firm), conduct a CAB for them, read Reichheld’s book and then introduce the idea of implementing a NPS monitoring process in their business as part of a Management Control Process that you introduce them to.

  1. November 21st, 2011 at 04:37 | #1

    I’m not sure about the “$50 off” idea Kerry but maybe it’s worth a test. I much prefer to use Fred Reichheld’s Net Promoter Score (NPS) question that we’re seeing more and more. It simply asks “Based on this service experience how likely would you be to refer us to a friend or colleague” – it’s scored on a 0 to 10 scale. You calculate a continuing average score and the NPS is the difference between the % of people who score 9-10 (these are your Promoters) and 0-6 (these are your Detractors. Those who score 7-8 are Passives. The trend in this metric provides a very accurate predictor of future business success. In other words is is a Key Predictive Indicator. For more information see http://www.netpromoter.com/netpromoter_community/index.jspa

  2. November 21st, 2011 at 01:50 | #2

    A great story and ‘on the money’ for mine. My experience is that most practitioners are still too busy doing the work (working IN) of the business.
    What is needed is not only the confidence to change but the conviction to see it through. All it takes is a series of small steps and my suggestion is to attach a small questionnaire with each fee acccount going out to clients with the invitaiton to ‘take $50 off’ for each completed questionnaire returned to the practice with your payment.
    The first question:
    Based on your experience of the work we’ve just done for you, how likely are you to refer our services to someone else?

    Others may not see it this way and if not, let’s see the alternate suggestions, then each member can draw their own conclusions on what will work best for them.

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