In 2019, more than 200 CEOs of America’s major corporations redefined the official “purpose” of US corporations. An association of executives called Business Roundtable released a statement with new goals and objectives for top companies:
We commit to delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.
It is impossible to gain a competitive advantage if your company is not customer-centric.
Customer focus is the new standard.
But what does this mean? And how to become a company that meets customer expectations?
In this article:
If you are interested in something else, you can also read:
- What Are Customer Relations & How to Manage Them?
- Types of Customers & How to Approach Each Type
- 17 Key Customer Service Skills [List & Resume Examples]
What is customer focus?
Customer focus is a set of business processes that help to understand customers and their needs. It is a holistic approach that concentrates on customers to improve company-wide operations and helps businesses make informed decisions.
Concentrating on the customer is one of the top priorities of successful companies.
Modern businesses pay more attention to customers rather than products. They believe that enhancing the relationship with customers directly translates into business results such as sales.
In the past, companies focused on their products and their quality. Advertisements were meant to provide information. And persuade customers that choosing a particular company was the most reasonable decision.
But, the discovery of the importance of post-sale service turned the tables.
There’s one thing I do that a lot of salesmen don’t—I believe the sale really begins after the sale. Not before it.
Customer-focused companies know that quality is something their customers take for granted. So instead of putting the product itself in the center of their attention, businesses concentrate on the needs of customers. If quality is already taken care of, customers need good prices, more convenience, and friendly customer service.
Is customer focus more important than product quality?
According to some studies, good customer experience has already become more important than product quality. About 89% of companies compete primarily by the quality of their customer experience. Customer focus has become three times more important as a brand differentiator than ten years ago.
It means the business world is not shifting from customer focus to product focus (contrary to some people’s beliefs). It is the other way round!
Customer focus and customer journey
It is extremely difficult to get accurate insights about customers. Especially, if you don’t have historical data at your disposal.
Usually, analyzing isolated customer interactions and sales touchpoints can distort the full picture. That’s why the customer-focused approach devotes more attention to the whole customer journey.
Incidentally, the airline industry is a great illustration of the importance of the customer journey. Both in the literal and figurative meaning of the term.
In the past, airline companies used to focus on ticket sales for individual flights. But, at some point, they started to analyze the flight history of every customer. The customer-oriented perspective provided many valuable insights. And it allowed them to optimize their flight schedules.
They considered the role of a single connection in a wider pattern of regular journeys. The profitability of individual flights turned out to be misleading. It was more beneficial to create schedules that are convenient to high-profile customers. Even if keeping some connections appeared to be costly.
A great customer focus example to learn from
The importance of the customer-service-focused approach to business has become more and more prominent in the last decades.
Back in the 90s, the Royal Bank of Canada discovered that they were losing money. They had been investing in infrastructure and opening new points. But it didn’t improve their business results. They decided to shift their focus and try to understand their customers better.
The results were very surprising.
It turned out that their customers didn’t care about more ATM machines or longer banking hours. It was far more important to be recognized as the same client in multiple points and departments.
Customers believed that good internal communication would make the bank services more convenient. Company-wide access to customer data was essential to delivering good customer experiences. Royal Bank of Canada decided to create an innovative customer data system.
By implementing the system, the bank managed to increase customer loyalty. The number of high-value customers increased by 20% and their customer lifetime value got a 13% boost.
Six steps to build a customer-focused company
Some companies are not just customer-focused. They are customer-obsessed!
The whole philosophy of companies like Apple and Amazon is to treat your customers like VIPs that you want to impress.
We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.
But many businesses are not as close to their customers as they think.
About 90% of companies believe that they focus on customers and listen to their feedback. But this is not something that customers agree with.
The majority of them are dissatisfied with the level of attention they receive from businesses. There is a huge delivery gap between the declared and actual level of customer service.
Here are the most important steps to make your company more customer-oriented:
1. Listen to the voice of the customer
As many as 42% of companies don’t listen to customers or collect their feedback. Some companies believe that it is better to let sleeping dogs lie. If you pretend that there is no problem, you won’t have to face it. There is no need to provoke your customers, right? Maybe everything is fine as it is?
Well, the comfort of not knowing your customers’ issues is a luxury. It costs you much more than you think. If you fail to listen to the voice of your customers and don’t know their problems, you can’t expect them to tell you why they are leaving.
What to do:
- Add a live chat widget and use customer satisfaction chatbots. They will allow you to collect customer feedback without effort and chat with customers in real time.
- More insights from customers and collecting more accurate customer data
2. Make your marketing customer-centric
Once you start collecting information about your customers, you can create a buyer persona. It is a set of characteristics of your typical customer. For example, your persona can be a middle-aged man interested in investing. Or a teenage girl who likes dancing. You can even give them a name!
Targeting the right audience is one of the keys to your success. Some of the things that you should determine include:
- Favorite communication channels
And, most importantly:
- Their pain points and worries
- The value they find in your products or services
Buyer personas are essential for creating customer-focused marketing campaigns. Different personas require appealing to different needs and emotions.
What to do:
- Define the key characteristics of your ideal customer and align your inbound marketing strategy with your buyer’s persona
- More relatable and effective marketing campaigns that target the right audience
3. Define your customer journey
You may know the critical customer touchpoints already. For example, how many customers create an account after visiting your website. Or what the odds of someone buying from you again are.
But have you ever tried to map it out?
You cannot be customer-focused if you don’t try to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Pretend that you are a new customer and try to note down your impressions about your website or products.
Complete each and every step that your customers need to take to complete their purchase. Ask your friends or hire someone to do the same thing. Collect their insights and try to prepare a customer journey map.
What to do:
- Identify essential business-customer touchpoints and try to evaluate them
- You’ll learn which aspects of your product or website cause friction and correspond to bad user experiences
4. Use a data-driven approach to customer interactions
If you are dealing with hundreds of customers on a regular basis, it is hard to pay attention to everyone. That’s why you need to learn to extract information without going too deep into details.
You probably can’t read every conversation your customer support team had with customers. But you can explore dashboards with customer data and other analytics.
For example, you can export all conversations and see what problems are the most frequent. If users of your website have problems with delivery tracking, create a dedicated AI bot. Then, you’ll be able to monitor how many times the topic appears in conversations. You can check the effectiveness of this type of chatbot too.
What to do:
- Use data analytics to observe trends and generate reports with customer database software
- Valuable insights without spending too much time on individual interactions
5. Track the right metrics
Successful companies recognize the value of loyal customers. Sometimes you can increase the number of new customers but at a cost of decreased customer satisfaction. You shouldn’t devote too much attention to acquiring new clients. Worrying about the needs of your existing customer base is much more beneficial in the long run.
About 70% of companies claim that it is way cheaper to retain your old customers than to acquire new ones.
Focus on increasing:
- Customer retention
- Customer lifetime value
- Customer average order value
- Customer satisfaction
- Net Promoter Score®
It is a good idea to measure CSAT and NPS instead of short-term sales results. If you don’t analyze your financial data from the right perspective, it may turn out that you are bleeding money. And you don’t know it before it’s too late.
What to do:
- Create a customer satisfaction survey to better understand your users and clients
- Satisfied customers are less likely to churn and they generate more long-term profits
6. Apply the customer focus strategy across your entire company
There’s more to focusing on the customer than just replying to a comment on social media once in a while. It is a strategy that should be adopted across your whole company and all channels. The image that you project as a brand is only as strong as your weakest link. It doesn’t matter if your marketing is customer-centric when your customer service isn’t.
To make things easier, you should create a set of guidelines and train your customer service team. Use CRM software that can be used by different departments. Make your customer success and sales team work together and brainstorm ideas. The sooner you adopt the customer-focus culture in your company, the better.
What to do:
- Involve different departments in your decision making process when it comes to customer engagement
- Creating a shared vision and goals for your employees
For modern consumers, price and product quality are not the most important factors. They care about the quality of their experience as clients. That’s why successful businesses pay close attention to the relationships they can build with customers.
Strong customer focus examples include companies such as Amazon, Apple, McDonald’s, or Slack. All industries align their company culture and business models to serve customers.
To improve client focus in your business you should:
- Make your company customer-service focused instead of product or sales focused
- Use modern channels such as instant messaging or live chat to connect with customers
- Collect feedback and insights from your users and buyers
- Adjust your marketing communication to match your buyer persona and their needs
- Analyze customers’ behavior in the wider context of your whole customer journey map
- Use tools that offer good analytics and allow you to follow trends and your team’s performance
- Track metrics such as CSAT or NPS to set goals and monitor your progress
If you want to start chatting with your customers in 5 minutes and learn more about their needs, we have just the right tool. Try out the best customer focus software now.