The customer should always be the primary focus of a company. It is true whether you as an entrepreneur agree with the motto: the customer is always right.
That’s because building stronger customer relationships or being a customer-centric brand leads to repeat businesses and more referrals. In fact, 89% of customers are more likely to buy again after a positive experience. (1)
What is a customer-oriented organization?
An organization is customer-centric if its primary goal is to create excellent customer experiences. It applies to everyone involved in the business of the company, from the managers who oversee specific departments, customer service representatives who assist customers with questions and complaints, to sales associates who assist customers through the purchase process.
In a customer-centric organization, everyone understands that they play a vital role in ensuring the best possible experience for customers. They see an excellent customer experience as a personal responsibility because they know that customers are a critical part of their job.
Benefits of Customer Focus for Business
Smart people in business already know that satisfied customers lead to several benefits. That’s why they give priority to customers.
However, customer focus is a relatively new idea for most business owners. It is especially the case with startups. Only now that the world is becoming more and more digital, there is a renewed interest in focusing more on the customer as a company.
No one can deny that the development of online technology is the primary reason for the new emphasis on customer centricity. That’s because digitization has brought businesses and customers closer than ever before.
With new lines of communication, customers can now also learn how brands treat their customers in as much detail as they’d like. So there is no doubt that customer experience is already a differentiator for business organizations. For that reason, companies must ensure that their products and services and customer service and support are both of good quality.
Some of the benefits of customer focus are:
- It increases customer satisfaction: Customer focus obviously results in higher customer satisfaction as the goal is to better understand customer needs.
In a customer-centric business, everyone pays attention to feedback to understand exactly what customers are looking for. That’s why many customer-facing organizations now use voice of customer software solutions to unlock the customer’s reality. It allows representatives or agents to offer various options that can help solve customer problems or handle complaints, eliminating irritation and increasing overall customer satisfaction.
- It offers new opportunities: Understanding customer needs better means detecting the unmet needs. Therefore, new business opportunities are some of the key benefits that customer focus brings to companies. For example, companies offering home repair and maintenance services may find out that a specific customer who calls them for plumbing assistance also needs basement sealing. In this case, it makes more sense to offer both services as a parcel service.
- It encourages customer loyalty: Customers always have a choice. And when making a choice, they will likely prefer a brand that offers a better customer experience. In the US alone, 90% of consumers view customer service as one of the most critical factors influencing their decision to pay for a product or service a specific company offers. After you spend money on your product or service, a positive experience will turn these regulars into loyal customers; some of them can even become ambassadors for your brand! (2)
Four steps to becoming a customer-centric company
To transform a company into a customer-centric organization, the following four steps must be taken:
1. Believe in customer focus
Believing in customer focus is the first step to a customer-oriented organization. By doing this, entrepreneurs and managers can cultivate a customer-centric culture in their organizations. To develop a customer-centric culture, you must consider every decision you make in the context of your customers’ behaviors, needs, and wants.
Also keep in mind that it is essential to ensure that your staff or team members, especially those who deal with customers on the front lines, care about your company’s customers and their interests. The only way to do this is to start at the top, meaning executive management embraces and communicates why there is a need for greater customer focus.
After all, owners and managers are role models within a company. From processes to branding, a leader’s philosophy about customers informs decision making and will permeate the entire organization.
2. Leverage data-driven insights into the decision-making process
By believing in customer focus, cultivating a customer-centric culture in the organization, and considering every decision in the context of a customer’s behavior, needs and wants, we neatly come to the second step, which is examining the concerns from the customer for data driven insights.
A customer-oriented organization is a data-driven organization. It means that his decisions are based on facts, not gut feeling. It wants to understand its customers, both in the context of the industry and on a deeper, individual level. The problem is, a company’s customer service team has traditionally only asked “what’s the score?” which isn’t enough.
A customer-centric company gains real insight by not only measuring, but also describing why something is happening. It then predicts what will happen and what should be done with the customer’s complaint or concern.
It is essential to note that using data-driven insights into the decision-making process significantly improves the customer experience and saves a business organization time and money from misdirecting efforts to programs that customers do not value. Making decisions based on facts allows a company to focus on what matters most and what really makes a difference.
3. Be transparent with customer feedback
Customer focus only happens when everyone in an organization has access to customer feedback.
Therefore, the third step to becoming a customer-centric company is to make customer feedback transparent across your business by adding customer feedback to the various tools and systems your company uses every day. That’s how it becomes top of mind. Exposing bad news and bringing it up in meetings rather than burying it can also help. This enables a collaborative effort to address any problem on the customer side using data-driven insights.
4. Hire or Appoint a Chief Customer Officer (CCO)
While delivering a great customer experience is a collaborative effort, there has to be someone leading the way. That’s what a chief customer officer or CCO, also known as a customer champion, does for a company.
A customer champion represents customers and their experiences during meetings or discussions within a business organization. As customer service winners, CCOs are focused on putting customer needs first. They also focus on improving the customer experience at every stage of an organization’s operations.
To ensure you can provide customers with the support they need and listen to and act on any customer concerns, build a customer champion team or appoint someone as a CCO to speak on behalf of your customers and work across your organization.
To adopt the customer-centric approach, a company must believe in customer-centricity, make decisions based on facts, customer feedback, make concerns, issues and complaints accessible, and appoint a customer champion. Doing these things and successfully becoming a customer-centric company opens up new opportunities, increases customer satisfaction, and encourages customer loyalty.
- “State of the connected customer”, Source: https://c1.sfdcstatic.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/documents/research/salesforce-state-of-the-connected-customer-4th-ed.pdf
- “Global State of Customer Service”, Source: https://clouddamcdnprodep.azureedge.net/gdc/gdcPiLLQw/original?ocid=mkto_eml_EM582302A1LA1
Samantha is head of content and political columnist for Best in Australia. Before joining Best in Au, she was a court and crime reporter at SM.