The accelerated growth of e-commerce in the last two decades has pushed the boundaries of online customer experience management. Today, companies are diversifying their strategies to become more customer-focused to meet the ever-growing customer expectations. A singular focus on product sales is no longer effective in a competitive marketplace.
Modern-day customers do not base their loyalty on the product or price. But, instead, they are devoted to companies that offer hyper-personalized customer service and brand experience. Hence, a growing number of organizations are prioritizing customer focus strategies to stay relevant.
Customer focus has taken precedence for most companies as they try to attract and retain their customers. This has become an essential factor for success and profitability. Therefore, in this article, we’ll go over the definition of customer focus in greater depth and discuss some tips and tricks for staying on top of current business trends.
Customer focus definition, in the simplest terms, is to prioritize the needs of the customer first. It is about understanding and delivering customer expectations to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty. Today, a customer-focused approach goes beyond just CRM; instead, it impacts every aspect of business and the decision-making process.
Creating dynamic customer-focused strategies can act as drivers for your company’s growth and bring experience-based differentiation. Placing customers at the heart of your company’s strategies goes a long way in strengthening long-term customer relationships. It puts your company in a much better position when customers are incentivized to stay loyal.
A customer focus work culture can be established by understanding the buying behavior of both existing and prospective customers. Genuinely customer-focused companies are deeply invested in customer success and their overall experience with the brand. The dedication of these companies is to discover and meet every customer expectation across all customer touchpoints.
In short, a customer-focused approach is one where the customer is the center of all the company’s decisions. Their needs, wants, objections, and feedback forms the trajectory of the company’s growth. It takes customer obsession to formulate a successful customer focus strategy that delivers the best results for both the customer and the company.
The bottom line of a company is to be profitable. And as it turns out, being a customer-centric company is mission-critical to a company’s financial success. In this day, where customer expectations and demands are at an all-time high, organizations cannot afford to overlook their customers’ needs.
When companies listen to their customers, they gain insights into their needs, buying decisions, and pain points. Moreover, they learn how to meet those needs and address the pain points to deliver an exceptional customer experience. Focusing on customers makes it more appealing for the concerned customers to interact with companies and enhance mutual engagement. It also ensures that both the seller and customer are on the same page.
Customer focus initiatives foster a higher level of trust between customers and companies. This helps the business from a sales perspective as the likelihood of existing customers referring the products or services to their close friends, colleagues, and family increases many folds. Hence, the customers progress from mere buyers to brand advocates, thereby helping the company boost its profitability and credibility.
According to research by Hubspot, 70% of companies with growing revenue stated that customer success is significant for their growth. The same research highlighted that 96% of expanding companies say that customer satisfaction is vital for their growth. Thus, businesses that put their customers first enjoy multifaceted benefits in the form of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention.
Moreover, when one looks from the business perspective, it simply makes sense for a company to be more customer-oriented. According to Salesforce research, an incredible 62% of customers expect companies to adapt their efforts based on their actions, feedback, and behaviors. If companies don’t listen to their customers, the customer will likely find a competitor who would.
Therefore, companies must prioritize their customers and listen to what they say for business survival and competitive edge. Plenty of evidence proves that organizations that build a customer-focused brand perform better than those without such an approach. In fact, according to Deloitte, customer-focused companies tend to be 60% more profitable than competitors without a customer focus outlook.
Listening to your customers is the fundamental step in developing a customer-focused culture. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. For customer-facing employees, the most direct approach is to ask for feedback during regular interactions. You should think from the perspective of the customer to get a better understanding of their problems.
Asking customers if they’re happy with your company, products, and services is a simple way to get a sense of how they feel. It can also act as an insightful tool for gathering suggestions and constructive criticism. Encourage your customer service team to keep track of these suggestions and review them regularly. The company can take this strategy up a notch by conducting consumer surveys to gather relevant feedback.
Another way to build a customer-focused culture is to keep track of your social media mentions and respond to positive and negative mentions or comments. You need a high-performance data analytics tool to understand different social media metrics and interpret the data into useful information. Monitoring social media provides you an opportunity to resolve customer issues before they escalate.
Furthermore, you can employ social listening to monitor what people are saying about your brand. This strategy can help build a customer-centric mindset. You can monitor the hashtags that customers are using on different social media platforms and track competitor activities. These social media insights can help you understand your customers and competitors better.
Your customer base is made up of various types of customers. Each of these customer types prefers to communicate with customer service via a different channel. Having a single customer support channel may appear simple to manage and provides a consistent support experience. However, providing customers with options demonstrates your commitment to accessibility.
Customers prefer simple experiences, and having multiple support channels makes it easy for customers to contact you. With new customer service trends, it’s also essential to think about mobile-first instant messaging apps like Whatsapp, Messenger, Apple Business Chat, etc. Thus, it’s crucial to create an omnichannel experience to improve customer interactions.
You can resolve customer issues on their preferred support platforms using third-party integrations without losing the context of customer information. Hence, multi-channel communication enables easy accessibility for customers and also helps you capture every customer interaction.
Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) have raised the bar for business. Many consumers and business buyers are willing to pay a premium for unique, first-to-market goods and services, putting pressure on businesses to stay ahead of the digital curve.
From social media to websites, you can gather essential data about customer behavior. Analyzing this data can help you understand customer behavior in depth. It’s an opportunity for you to comprehend the reasons behind their buying decisions. Additionally, analyzing customer feedback can assist you in analyzing the gaps in your product or service.
Customer data analysis can help your product development team improve or update the product as per changing consumer needs. Also, you can leverage data to deliver hyper-personalized content to customers. When the content is specific and relevant to the customer’s preferences, it can improve results and engagement.
The most loved brands worldwide like Netflix, McDonald’s, Disney, Apple, etc., are well known for using big data to deliver personalized experiences to loyal customers. Through this personalized customer service, these brands have built and sustain customer relationships better than their competitors.
The core attribute that impacts customer retention is a company’s customer service. And as we all know, customer retention (CRR) is a more cost-effective strategy than customer acquisition. In the last decade, the cost of customer acquisition has risen significantly. For companies, it’s five times more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain the existing ones.
So, if your company wants to prolong the CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value), it has to invest in customer retention strategies. This can be done by creating a company culture that values and delivers excellent customer service. With exceptional customer service, your customers are likely to come back again and again.
It’s vital to implement new ideas to keep your customers content. Offering discounts, loyalty programs, free goodies, etc., can help improve their experience. Moreover, all customer-facing employees must engage proactively with the buyers to build long-term relationships. They must have adequate training to offer resolution when a customer faces any problem.
Even bad customer service experiences can be turned into positive ones. For instances of lousy customer service, you need to have a service recovery plan as a backup. You can offer the affected consumer a refund, replacement, or discount to compensate for the bad experience. Keeping in touch with the customer and providing meaningful assurance can help turn their flawed perceptions into a positive experience.
To be truly customer-focused, a company needs to look inwardly and facilitate a positive work environment. A company with satisfied and happy employees is more efficient in delivering excellent customer service than those with an unhappy workforce. Hence, it’s imperative to invest in your employees’ growth and development.
An educated and well-trained workforce is more equipped to handle and adapt to industry changes. Your company will ultimately benefit when your employees have the apt skills and abilities to deal with different customer situations. Thus, you must provide thorough training to your employees to help them advance professionally.
Your customer focus approach should be limited to just customer-facing employees. Instead, it should be an integral part of your overall company culture. When the entire organization works together towards a common goal, it can achieve maximum employee and customer satisfaction.
Customers become frustrated when they’re forced to repeat their issues to multiple agents, and forcing them to do so demonstrates that you do not care enough about your customers. They anticipate you gathering data, collaborating internally, and having the data processed on their behalf.
Customers’ expectations for consistent interactions across departments are falling short, according to 78% of customers (Salesforce research). 59% say they often feel like they’re communicating with different departments rather than one unified organization. About two-thirds of customers (66%) say they frequently have to repeat or re-explain information to different representatives.
Customer data siloed across marketing, sales, customer service, and other departments can lead to inefficiencies in your processes, thereby lowering customer satisfaction. Customer service teams, for example, may struggle to address issues quickly if they don’t have quick and easy access to customer-related marketing data, such as customer reviews and purchasing patterns. This obstructs customer-focused initiatives, potentially harming your customer relationship.
Integrating all of your customer data and making it available to all departments and units of your company can enhance efficiency. Your teams will see a clearer picture of their customer relationships, connect insights, determine the best customer focus software to use, and make data-driven decisions to improve the customer experience.
It’s also easier for your support teams to upsell relevant products to your customers when they have easy access to relevant and impactful customer data. So, as a company, you should push for and foster inter-team collaboration to create a seamless customer experience across multiple touchpoints.
Most companies are already using CRM software (Customer Relationship Management) to manage and track their contact lists. Such tools are beneficial for streamlining the entire customer management process. They can make it easier to meet customer-related objectives more efficiently.
These tools can shift the customer support team’s focus from simply serving a customer to helping them solve their problems. It can also help executives prioritize urgent tasks and resolve complaints promptly. CRM software makes it easier to manage multiple communication channels.
Additionally, they allow customers to contact your business in the manner they prefer, personalize conversations, increase customer engagement, and obtain a more comprehensive picture of each inquiry, all of which improve customer support quality.
Besides streamlining the process, CRM and other analytical tools provide great insights into customer data. Whether you use Google Analytics (GA) or any other data analytics platform, you can keep track of essential metrics critical to your business’s performance. Here are some important KPIs you should continuously monitor:
Customers who don’t trust your company are less likely to return, and they may even discourage others from buying from your business. Thus, there needs to be trust between you and your customers. Some of the ways you have built and enhance consumer trust are as follow:
By implementing this approach, you will make your customers feel nurtured and cared for. When they see that their problems are being solved and that any issues they have raised have been used to improve the company as a whole, it will improve their perception of the company. This, in turn, will earn their trust and their loyalty for the long haul.
Hiring passionate, motivated, creative, and positive team members is the foundation of a thriving customer-centric culture. Employee education and training are critical to forging a company-wide culture that prioritizes a customer-first approach. The employees must understand that they own segments of the process or touchpoints and are empowered to act in the company’s best interests.
Appointing a CCO (chief customer officer), who is responsible for the organization’s customer-centric strategies, can help you oversee the success of your efforts. Customer officers serve as customer advocates, keeping customers informed about developments and looking for ways to improve the customer journey map.
It’s imperative to hire the right people at different levels to ensure that your company is genuinely steering in the right direction. These employees need to have an understanding and passion for customer focus initiatives. Without them, it would be impossible to adapt to ever-changing customer needs or keep up with competitors.
Maintaining customer focus is a continuous process that requires keen investigation and implementation of up-to-date changes. In your journey to become more customer-focused, you’ll face multiple challenges such as:
Customers are becoming more demanding. They now demand nearly everything- low prices, high quality, excellent functionality, ideal solutions, and so on. And there’s no sign of this consumer trend slowing down anytime soon. As a result, you must constantly look for ways to improve and do things better, knowing that customers will continue to expect more and more in the future.
As people migrate and age, their preferences will change. Economic and cultural trends will influence the way people buy products and services. The stock market is heavily psychologically influenced, and attempting to decipher this can be difficult. A customer focus culture is only influential when your company continuously adapts to the changing industry trends and market conditions.
When it came to products and services, customers had limited options for years. However, things have changed drastically in the past two decades. Today’s customers are bombarded with abundant choices in every category of products and services. Thanks to great specialization and niche marketing, they can now choose from a wide range of products, features, and services. To remain relevant, you have to become better than your competitors.
The world of global competition has created a highly competitive environment. The location of your company is irrelevant as long as it has access to a global community of resources. Your supply chains need to be well equipped to withstand disruptions to continue production. Given the intense competition, your business must ensure top-tier and cost-effective resources to develop high-quality products or services for demanding customers.
A stagnant product or service that lacks innovative enhancements will be in jeopardy. You can’t keep providing the same value proposition to the customer over and over again. It must change and evolve to meet the changing demands and needs of customers. Thus, you should integrate the latest technology with your offerings.
McDonald’s is a globally loved brand, and it’s known for its excellent customer service. To understand growing customer needs, the fast-food mogul has pioneered listening to and acting on customer feedback.
McDonald’s has identified various customer needs such as healthier options, longer hours, and even the “All Day Breakfast” by using social media and online surveys. In an effort to improve customer satisfaction, the fast-food behemoth implemented several changes based on customer feedback:
Customer-centricity has officially taken hold at McDonald’s, with the 75-year-old company making changes across the board, from the menu to marketing to restaurants.
McDonald’s team monitors digital conversations and measures overall demand using social media listening. The company tracks customer satisfaction across multiple channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and customer satisfaction surveys, at national and franchise levels.
The data is then synchronized, giving them a clear picture of the customer journey. McDonald’s is better positioned with this information to identify critical points of interaction and address problems that cause customer friction in real-time. Moreover, to appeal to modern customers, the company has also used technology to streamline the customer experience, such as kiosk ordering stations and partnering with UberEats.
Zappos, an online shoe retailer, is “obsessed” with customer service and considers it a competitive differentiator. The company has developed robust buyer personas by using various research methodologies to gather customer feedback, such as interviews, surveys, and usability testing. Zappos has successfully built targeted marketing campaigns using a holistic customer view at every stage of the customer journey.
Zappos’ website also has a customer-first mindset, with a dedicated customer support menu, a visible phone number, and friendly call-to-action buttons that make promotions more appealing. Through various digital touchpoints, the brand can build a long-term relationship with customers by meeting their needs.
For some, Zappos’ customer philosophy may appear risky- they offer free shipping for any number of back-and-forth transactions, and have a 365-day return policy if a customer is unhappy with the product. Furthermore, they have never outsourced customer service to capture the local culture and persona in their experience.
The company has admitted that such a strategy costs them money. However, Zappos’ philosophy, on the other hand, is to invest the majority of the money they would typically spend on advertising in customer service in the hopes that their customers will stay with them for a long time and compensate for the lost marketing through positive word-of-mouth.
Slack, a cloud-based communication company, has a cutting-edge customer experience strategy that combines engineering and customer service. It has continuously used customer feedback to improve the product based on customer needs since its launch in 2013.
The company has created brand advocates who fuel their word-of-mouth marketing strategy by soliciting feedback and featuring customers in case studies. In fact, Slack took seven months to receive user feedback and was laser-focused on their requirements.
As a result, Slack created an easy-to-use interface that allows people to communicate and stay organized more efficiently, resulting in a $623 million return on investment by 2020. Customer feedback is of paramount importance to Slack. Therefore, they use NPS or CES scores as a critical metric for measuring success rather than sales.
Netflix is an excellent illustration of a company that has disrupted an entire industry by providing exceptional customer service. They increased their paid subscribers from 21.5 million in 2011 to over 158 million in 2019. The key feature of their movies and series selection is personalization. You can use the platform for free for the first month after registering.
The main benefit of video streaming platforms is that you can watch your favorite shows without commercial interruptions. The other advantage is that they have a much more extensive selection of productions. Furthermore, when you create a profile on the platform, you can select the titles you enjoy the most so that their algorithm can determine the best suggestions for you.
One of the reasons why consumers love Netflix is because of their online communication. Each genre has its own Facebook, Twitter pages, and Instagram accounts dedicated to each Netflix original series. They know how to build anticipation for their shows, and they’ve created online communities around them. These are communities that everyone wants to be a part of so they don’t miss out on hot topics.
Amazon has a well-known reputation for being one of the most customer-focused businesses ever. It began as an online bookstore with the goal of improving the discovery process by providing a personalized experience. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest online retailers, and this transformation would not have been possible without a genuine focus on customers’ preferences and behavior.
The business model had to become more integrated as the company’s portfolio grew. Its founders and engineers achieved customer success by removing friction from the online purchasing process while providing exceptional pricing and item selection value.
The launch of Amazon Go, a new type of store with no checkout required, is Amazon’s most recent innovation. Buyers can simply walk into the store, check-in with their app, and begin taking items from the shelves as they go, eliminating the need to wait in line at the checkout counter.
One of the most attractive aspects of Amazon’s strategy is its robust algorithm, which predicts what each customer wants and then brings it upfront, primarily to fuel customers’ desire to buy more. Having personalized recommendations based on previous purchase decisions is a huge plus when you’re in the retail industry.
Starbucks has adjusted its operations and marketing strategy to balance business efficiency and effectiveness by focusing on its customer needs. Starbucks’ loyalty program has become a case study on effective ways of increasing efficiency without sacrificing product or service quality.
Starbucks’ loyalty program offers in-store pickup and a variety of discounts and other incentives to encourage repeat visits. This is a significant value-add for customers who want to avoid delays caused by lines. Members can customize their drinks the same way they can in the store, but they can skip the long waiting line and pick up their drinks at a predetermined time.
Starbucks adopted its loyalty program to meet the needs of its on-the-go customers. Starbucks owns the most popular mobile app among major restaurants due to this strategy, with 48 percent of app users using their loyalty app regularly.
HubSpot, an inbound marketing software company, is well-known in the marketing world for its outstanding customer service. Their customer service team is accessible, and the company has an extensive knowledge base that allows them to assist customers quickly and efficiently.
HubSpot also has a vibrant community that provides helpful information for their marketing, sales, and service hubs and web developers and HubSpot Academy, their educational platform. Customers can even submit suggestions for how to improve their tools through a ‘Ideas’ section.
The company smartly employs content marketing to keep visitors on their site for as long as possible, and they strive to answer the most frequently asked questions in their field. They constantly publish new content and adapt old content to keep up with the ever-changing realities of their industry.
They repurpose their content by turning it into comprehensive all-in-one guides that can be downloaded. They do so because they recognize that their target audience only wants to make well-informed choices. As a result, they offer to educate this particular audience, establishing credibility and strengthening bonds with each visitor.
Glossier, a cult beauty product company, has built a community of brand advocates who help with customer service and product development through social media. By monitoring social media questions, comments, and Q&As, their community plays a vital role in their overall marketing strategy and messaging.
Glossier has grown through word of mouth and social sharing marketing, fueled by user-generated content and feedback. Customer service is one of the brand’s unique selling points. In fact, most businesses could benefit from Glossier’s customer service structure, as it employs a cutting-edge approach to customer service that boosts overall brand success.
Unlike any other brand, Glossier makes the most of its customers. They treat customers as friends, conversing with them in an overly “cool” and friendly tone. They’re also known for featuring real customer faces on billboards and publishing real customer stories on their website and marketing assets. Their customer service fosters brand loyalty and cultivates a cult following.
Customer feedback, customer experience, product development, and overall marketing are all seamlessly intertwined in Glossier. The company does not operate in a siloed environment; they are heavily involved in business decisions made by other departments. This inter-team collaboration and close customer relationships lead to increased conversion rates.
FedEx is considered the second most trusted B2B company in the United States, according to Forbes. The B2B company takes immense pride in its impeccable customer service that connects people and makes possibilities happen.
The company recently switched to a single customer-focused newsletter from a siloed infrastructure. They did so for various reasons, one of which was the need for more accurate and timely data. Streamlining communication makes things easier for employees and customers, and it makes it easier for customers to find accurate information.
They have improved customer satisfaction by prioritizing relevance over frequency. FedEx teams also maintain close contact with all external collaborators, keeping them informed and resolving issues as they arise.
They also work with different eCommerce shipping service providers, such as PluginHive, to provide online store owners with a seamless FedEx shipping experience. The company really values customer feedback and is always open to suggestions in an ongoing effort to set and improve their customer experience.
Moreover, they are using their global network to deliver resources where they are most needed in times of disaster and for special shipments, among other things. This may not directly impact customers, but it is a positive indication of FedEx’s regard for people. Customers will be satisfied by a brand that adheres to its mission and values.
Uber is one of the best specimens because it demonstrates what organizations need to do or change to provide exceptional customer service. Uber employees identified all of the problems people had when hailing a cab and worked to eliminate them one by one. They created features that allowed riders to know where their cab was at any time and how long it’d take to arrive at the location.
Furthermore, allowing ratings for both users and drivers ensures that their services will always meet the expectations of their clients and partners. Drivers will only converse with you if you are in the mood, and some will even offer you something sweet along the way. Given that fewer people carry cash on them, in-app credit card payment is also advantageous.
Companies worldwide are constantly reinventing their customer service models and business strategies to ensure that their company is known more for their service than for the products they produce. Ultimately, to build a customer-focused company, you need to keep the distance between your company and customers to a minimum.
You must constantly take your customers’ feedback and adapt yourself to meet their expectations. Any decision that the company makes should be from the perspective of what works best for the customer. Only then can you consider yourself to be a customer-focused company.