Your customers come to you to help them solve a particular problem they have. A determining factor in whether or not they will return is how well you helped them achieve the transformation they desired. The more successful you help your customers become, the more likely they are to reward you with their loyalty

I recently finished reading Michelle Obama's best-selling memoir, Becoming. When I got to the part that focused on Obama's life in the White House, there were several passages that stood out as shining examples of how businesses should think about and approach customer success.

Here are four principles gleaned from those stories you can use to focus on delivering experiences that help your customers perform at their best.

1. Be laser focused on your objective.

For the former First Lady, moving into the White House was eye-opening to see just how many people were working behind the scenes focused on a singular goal.

She noted, "The White House, one learns, operates with the express purpose of optimizing the well-being, efficiency, and overall power of one person -- and that's the president. Barack was now surrounded by people whose job was to treat him like a precious gem."

Have a look at your customer journey and assess whether or not each element is designed with the sole purpose of making your customer be successful in their quest.

2. Be prepared for all situations.

I was fascinated by all the details Mrs. Obama shared about the lengths the secret service goes through to keep the president safe. This included not only safeguards for situations they knew about in advance, but contingency plans in the event some unexpected situation went down.  

Here's are a few of the ways in which she described how the team stayed ready for anything, "I didn't know that he'd also, at all times, have a nearby helicopter ready to evacuate him, that sharpshooters would position themselves on rooftops along the routes he traveled, that a personal physician would always be with him in case of a medical problem, or that the vehicle he rode in contained a store of blood of the appropriate type in case he ever needed a transfusion."

Mrs. Obama even talked about how a military aid stayed close by at all times with a forty-five-pound briefcase with the launch authentication codes and communication devices should a nuclear attack need to be implemented quickly.

Evaluate your customers' journey as they interact with your business, and brainstorm a list of possible scenarios that could occur. When you have an awareness of those possibilities, you can build a plan to address it to ensure your customers remain on track for achieving success.

3. No detail is too small.

On inauguration day in 2008, the staff at the White House worked swiftly to move all the belongings of the Bushes' out of the home and move in all of the Obama's in time for when they returned. 

To ensure they were comfortable, the former First Lady recalled that she had to make hundreds of decisions in advance, "I was supposed to pick out everything from bath towels and toothpaste to dish soap and beer for the White House residence."

As a result of getting those preferences from Obama, the kitchen pantry stayed stocked with their favorite foods, and all their desires and day-to-day needs were tended to.

As you work to serve your customers, know that details matter. The slightest inconvenience or unfamiliarity could derail their focus or progress toward reaching their goal with your products and services.

Work to ensure that you put attention on tending to even the tiniest details to help your customers perform at their best.

4. Convenience can never override your objective.

A big part of keeping the president in the right frame of mind to perform his job was ensuring the safety and well being of his family. Since the Obamas had children growing up in the White House, that meant that those safety precautions impacted every part of their lives.

Mrs. Obama revealed several ways that fact forced her to have less than desireable conversations, "It was awkward to explain to people that before Sasha could come to little Julia's birthday party, the Secret Service would need to do a security sweep. It was awkward to require Social Security numbers from any parent or caregiver who was going to drive a kid over to our house to play. It was all awkward, but it was all necessary."

There will be times when helping your customers be successful won't be convenient. But if you remain focused on your core objective, navigating through awkwardness and inconvenience as necessary will position your brand to be a thorough solution to support your customers in their journey to success.

Published on: Mar 29, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.