Keeping customers at the core of your business

“As far as customers are concerned, you are the company. This is not a burden but the core of your job. You hold in your hands the power to keep customers coming back – perhaps even to make or break the company.” – Unknown

The author of this quote may be unknown, but it points to the very base of customer service. Keeping customers at the core of your business really must be the core of any company’s culture and the company must aim at embracing a wholesome relationship with the customer’s they serve. Customer centricity means that your company is ready to listen, collaborate and respond to the customer in the way they want. Keeping customers at the core of your business will outwardly portray that your customers are special, their feedback is valued and they will always be made to feel welcome. A company that is focused on keeping customers at the core of their business will revamp and reorganize their strategies such that they can deliver real and sustained value to each customer. However, for these strategies to work they must be well-thought out, impeccably planned and executed smoothly. Implementing these strategies well will ensure that each customer experience, at every touch point will be memorable and one that will make customers talk well of the company.

– Ask, ask, ask – get feedback throughout the customer’s journey with your company. Invest in technology to help collate and analyze these huge amounts of data so that none of the feedback goes unnoticed. Unattended to feedback is a major sore point for customers and they consider it rude and an expression of being ignored, even if your company did not mean for it to be so.

– Not just through feedback surveys that are company focused, companies must allow the customers to freely express their opinions and feelings in non-restrictive forums. User meetings, discussion boards on social media sites and such that allow customers to freely provide feedback – good, bad and terrible. These face to face interactions tell your customers that you are actively listening and are also more personal. The more opportunities you give to customers to express, it gets easier to do what they want and also makes keeping customers at the core of your business a lot more real.

– Do not ignore what your customer service representatives know. After all they are the ones who are collaborating and working directly with customers throughout the day, day after day. Their insights in to customer needs and behavior will be invaluable to know whether your company is keeping customers at the core of business and what can be done better.

– We already know that not customers are equal. The needs are different; the ways they choose to interact is different and are even different temperamentally. Some may be easily appeased by just the basic information on a query while some larger customers might need a single point of contact for all their issues. Whatever the strategy employed, it must convey that your company is keeping customers at the core of business.

– Put the top line executives to good use. Assuming your baseline customer service teams are functioning well, these top executives must be used sparingly. Having them jump in at the slightest hint of trouble dilutes the effect they can have if a major issue were to arise. They can remain focused on creating and building on opportunities and business from customers and be involved if a customer specifically asks for them. This creates a better structure to manage the company’s business in line with that of the customer.

– With routine business, it is vital that customers are continuously engaged. High customer engagement levels means that customers are given priority and this in turn increases their satisfaction levels urging them to spend more and repeatedly. Engaged customers are happy customers who will be more than willing to let the next customer and also provide referrals on various channels. Customers are not engaged by chance and neither do they remain engaged automatically. They must see continued value in the relationship and when companies create this value by keeping customers at the core of business, this relationship is deepened and strengthened.

– Do not ask for feedback and comments if your company is too busy to respond to it. It is impossible for companies with a large customer base to be able to keep check on every need of each customer. Plus these needs change almost every day! Hence companies resort to asking for feedback. Any kind of feedback is good – it tells companies that customers are paying attention and are still engaged. Ignoring these comments could have drastic consequences. Keeping your customers at the core of business means that these comments will be used to get better at what you do for them and continually aim to achieve greater customer satisfaction levels.

– Customers must not only see continued engagement but also see consistency in the way the company manages these engagements. From the first point of contact and right through the customer’s journey there must be precision and consistency. Customer effort must be minimal and yet what they receive must reflect high standards of quality and service. There must be consistency in the way customers are interacted with, the methods of collecting feedback and acting upon and even in the manner that harsh criticism and negative comments are dealt with. Consistency is the key – it lets customers have confidence and trust in your company.

The advantage of keeping these factors in mind is that there will be noticeable improvements and increases in customer satisfaction levels. A happier customer base will result in happier employees and a more successful company. Keeping customers at the core of business will become a culture and a value and allow the company to build the capacity to consistently not only meet customer expectations but exceed them more often than not. It is of course a painstaking and time consuming endeavor but building a customer centric environment breeds rewards that are sustainable and incomparable. Investing in various customer management technologies, is a tremendously helpful method in managing customer data and responding to their needs.

The company must make some changes internally for these strategies and technologies to be successful and show that the company is committed to keeping customers are the core of business.

– The company’s culture and values will reflect this change in a well-written and neatly documented manner. Each member of the organization will have a clear understanding of how the organization expects interactions with customers to be and how best each one can serve the customer.

– Collecting, measuring and monitoring data provided by customers or collected independently through various sources. This data will define what customers view as important and will help the company to be successful.

– Using technology and putting it to good use. Software that allow Customer Relationship Management and Big Data Analysis help in managing large and unmanageable data with ease and allow companies to deliver accurate information and speedy responses to customers.

– These software and data management also helps in segmenting customers according to industry and or demographics making it easier to provide customized and better customer service. Better customer service in turn leads to better business and higher ROI leading companies towards success.

Keeping customers at the core of your business is an essential and vital tenet for any organization. Start with small yet impactful guiding strategies and principles and move towards creating a large canopy of tenets that will loudly and boldly announce your company’s commitment towards its customers. Customers and customer focus are the defining character for any organization and keeping these at the core will enable your company to survive the market storms, technological breakthroughs and failures and even change in management. It is this customer focus that is the most lasting and significant contributor towards any company’s longevity and sustainability. Is your company keeping customers at the core of its business?

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