Customercentricity — designing all elements of a company to better serve the customer — can be a transformative business practice. Whether you sell to other businesses or directly to consumers, a stronger customer focus can improve every aspect of your business.
Focus on Employees
Although it might seem counterintuitive, improving the employee experience is the first step toward building a stronger customer focus. After all, customer-centric policies are meaningless if your employees don't have the knowledge and autonomy to carry them out. Start with comprehensive training to equip your workers with expert-level knowledge and first-hand experience with each product and service. Then, take advantage of invaluable ground-level insight by improving workplace communication and building a culture of openness and encouragement. Make sure employees feel comfortable speaking up when they see potential for improvement, and implement their suggestions as often as possible. If you don't already, give customer service agents the power to stray from policy when it comes to keeping customers happy. These steps help you boost job satisfaction, encourage innovation and create a culture of trust — all of which have a positive trickle-down impact on the end user.
Many customers have a baseline expectation for business interactions. When company exceeds these expectations, it automatically gains a competitive edge. One way to improve your customer focus is to examine your competitors' customer experiences to understand the industry standard and find ways to improve on it. If competitors use an email system for customer service, respond faster by implementing live chat or a 24/7 Twitter service page. If the industry norm is a boring order confirmation email, change it up by using fun, personalized language that makes recipients smile. When you've exceeded the most important industry standards, encourage employees to go the extra mile for customers: do the legwork to locate a hard-to-find item, make post-purchase calls to ensure that everything is running smoothly or apologize for a mistake by sending a special discount code. These small actions delight buyers, communicate a clear customer focus and build loyalty.
Businesses with a strong customer focus are rarely complacent; they understand that customer-facing systems require constant attention and adjustment. Map out all of interactions a customer has with your business during the purchasing cycle, including advertisements, social media posts, website visits and in-person interactions. Ask staff members to act as customers and evaluate each of these touch points. In doing so, you can spot areas for improvement that are invisible to employees. You might discover that your store layout doesn't have an intuitive flow, for example, or that your online order form lags at a crucial moment. By examining your operations from a customer perspective on a regular basis, you can find and fix issues before they do serious damage to the company.
If your business has long been fixated on the bottom line, shifting to a customer focus is a time-consuming practice. By investing the time and effort, you can revitalize the company and create a powerful, loyalty-building experience.
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