Customer Focus is not a Fluke

“Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance but to do what lies clearly at hand.” – Thomas Carlyle

If businesses are unable to see what is right in front of them, they will unlikely be able to see what lies even in the immediate future. For any business to run, even before becoming successful, it requires on-going, persistent and relentless customer focus. This focus is not a fluke or coincidence and neither can it be achieved overnight. It is a lot of work and effort but the benefits are many and often outweigh all effort put in. Let’s just say that customer focus is an attitude and outlook and hence cannot be a coincidence. It is strange and maybe even shocking, but still is true that there are still companies out there that don’t believe in customer focus and there are some who may feel it’s important but are unaware of the important role their employees have in ensuring this focus. When there is no awareness, it is unlikely that they would have processes or strategies in place that put customers first. These companies cannot blame their employees for not delivering great customer service when there is no such concept in place company wide.

In today’s competitive business world, a lack of customer focus can be the difference between failure and success for a company. It is this gap between customer focus within a company and the needs of customers that is the root cause of the problems companies have in sustaining their success and profit margins.

  • Is your company, its vision and philosophy and culture aligned with what the customers view as important and have you based your customer service procedures using their feedback?
  • Are your employees ‘on-board’ and in concurrence of your company’s values? Was employee feedback taken into consideration when establishing the company’s values and culture?
  • Does your brand, offerings and service reflect your company’s values? Can customers instantly associate your brand with a particular value and vice versa?
  • Is your company quick to encourage its employees for displaying the company’s values and maintaining customer focus in all that they do? How often do you reward them and do they understand the consequences of not living the brand’s values?

Unless the company is committed to deploying these methods, it is unlikely that customer focus would become a norm – they would just be mere words which would most certainly have no meaning to the customer or the people that work in the company.  Lack of alignment and no display of customer focus despite the big fancy words, would lead customers to distrust your company. It’s common sense – if your company’s members (read employees) do not believe or stand for what you so loudly proclaim, how can customers believe anything you say given that they know you through your employees and brand. In order to run a successful business and retain customers, it is crucial that companies build a culture of customer focus by matching the words to their actions.

There is no dearth of companies that have become successful and continue to retain that success through powerful brands with robust potential. They have managed this long term sustainability purely by listening actively to customers, taking their employees views and aligning all the aspects together to form a strong culture of customer focus and loyalty. They treat their employees well and are completely honest and transparent in their dealings with both internal and external customers thereby putting the customer’s expectations into action.

Of course these companies did not achieve customer focus as a fluke or by some knee jerk reaction. A customer centric company happens through concerted and systematic processes and is a series of small and large changes that they were willing to make and implement. If you are committed to your success, then it is crucial to understand that implement one change or new process could reveal the need for more changes and a call to action on a number of issues. Even if customer focus is something you passionately desire, it will not be an easy task – it takes time, patience and steadfastness.

– To start with, your company must first recognize its strengths and acknowledge its shortcomings.  Of course, your customers and employees are your best sources of information and you can collect vital data through feedback surveys, group discussions, online forums, social media open dialogues and face to face interactions. The data that you collect via these sources will prove invaluable in making an assessment of what your company is doing well, what needs to be changed and which aspects are desperate for attention.  The data you collect could spring some surprises and shocks and your company must be ready to deal with both.  However, the key point to remember is that this is not a one-time exercise but a regular and on-going effort to stay on top of issues and better your service and offerings. In fact, it would be good to get a feel of the opinions of prospective customer markets and also get an idea of how your company is viewed as a workplace. These are all bits of a larger and more complex jigsaw, without which you would find it hard to keep pace with the growing market and the surge of upcoming and current competition. We told you – customer focus is not a fluke and neither is making an environment conducive to working. Your goal must be to not only make customers happy while doing business with you but also have a band of employees who would be willing to work with you to make happy customers.

– Data collected from various sources will reveal information that you probably did not know about. This would mean that your company should be ready and committed to change the ‘regular’ way of doing things. Each part of your company – the employees, leadership and top line – must be willing to embrace these changes and support the outcomes. It would mean empowering your front-line staff to do whatever required, letting customers know that you care and that your company has a culture of customer focus.  It may seem arduous and cumbersome, but making these changes will lead your company down the road to success because of a customer-centric approach.  If however, the issues that emerge scare you and you are unable to commit to the improvements required, it won’t be long before your customers and employees begin to leave.  Focusing on the issues that emerge, however intimidating, will not only help to make things better for your company but will also provide insight into the kind of customer you should focus on. Everyone knows that not all customers ‘love’ you equally and not all are profitable and ready to work with you to make improvements. It should be your endeavour to get a fix on which type of customer will be most effective, ideal and the ones you want to keep with you no matter what. You must focus on these great customers – know what they want, understand what bothers them and how your company and its offerings can help make them reach their business goals. This would be customer focus at its best.

– The final step would be to drive the changes required and address any issues that stand in the way of your customer’s happiness while doing business with you. Prioritize the issues and deal with the most pressing and potentially disastrous issues first. Hard at first, but as you go along, it would get a lot easier.  A word of caution – don’t rest here. This finding out and resolving is a relentless and never-ending process and if you can do it once, the repeats will be much simpler and even enjoyable.

Getting your company and employees a customer focus and customer-centric culture is an overnight decision. Make it now and work tirelessly till your customers say you have it!

Learn about a new approach to better customer service!

Interactive Guides for Superior Customer Service

Develop interactive decision trees for troubleshooting, cold calling scripts, medical appointments, or process automation. Enhance sales performance and customer retention across your call centers. Lower costs with customer self-service.

Interactive Decision Tree