Everywhere we turn, we encounter change. Not just “Oooh, that’s different!” change, but also “Where the hell am I?” change. We’re navigating paradigm shifts, disruptive technologies and social upheaval like a lumberjack log roll; even if we’re still on our log, we can hear splashes all around us.
At least, it feels that way some days. I have to say, though, that a lot of my time is spent the old-school way: talking to my customers, taking care of their needs, and trying to both educate and excite them about making music. I try not to forget that the fundamental job we have is to serve the needs of our customers. Surrounded by turmoil, it can be easy to lose sight of this; however, I believe that, if we keep this task in focus, it will inform our decisions about everything else—from the way we structure our business to the products that we sell.
We’ve talked about some clear-cut applications of this approach: letting customer requests shape your inventory, for example. In my store, our current approach to credit card processing and billing illustrates a less obvious path.
For example, I’ve jettisoned our “traditional” card processor. No more monolithic bank-shilled corporate shackles for me. I was unhappy with take-it-or-leave-it rate hikes, hidden charges for “premium” cards, compliance fees, crappy service…basically, the sort of abuse that becomes the norm when a business entity feels it has a captive audience. I got a smartphone and was one of the first to sign up for PayPal Here when it hit the market about 18 months ago. Although I had no doubt it would be the way we’d go (with Square already having shown proof of concept and PayPal being well established as eBay’s processing arm), I also knew that my customers might give me some pushback about an emerging technology used with their precious credit card. Granted, I wasn’t working in Bitcoins, but we have customers who—gasp—don’t even have a cell phone.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when our first major roll out of the device at a piano teacher workshop last year was met with, “Wow, cool!”