With ever-evolving customer expectations, it can be challenging for businesses to differentiate themselves from the competition. A customer focus strategy ensures consumer needs are better met across all your interactions, reinforces the value your business brings and can set your company apart.
Before we get into different strategies you can use, let's begin with what customer focus is.
What is customer focus?
Customer focus is a mindset that puts customers’ needs first. A business that uses a customer focus strategy ensures that every decision they make and every aspect of the company, including its products, services, and daily operations, aligns with the customers’ interests.
By using a customer focus principle to inform your overall customer service strategy, you can deliver support interactions that enable consumers to reach their goals — and make them happy.
Customer focus vs. customer-centric
While often used interchangeably, a customer-focused approach differs from a customer-centric one.
Customer focus means understanding customers’ wants and expectations and meeting those. A customer focus strategy can be helpful as a part of your larger customer engagement strategy.
Customer-centric businesses take this further by understanding consumers so deeply that you uncover the underlying needs behind those desires. As Steve Jobs put it: “Get closer than ever to your customers. So close that you tell them what they need well before they realize it themselves.”
This way, you can identify opportunities to push your business toward developing and providing the best solutions.
The importance of customer focus
Focusing on customers should be at the foundation for everything your business does. In doing so, you're creating a memorable customer support experience that benefits your business too.
- Better customer engagement. Part of a customer focus approach involves listening to your customers and adapting their feedback to your business. These interactions show customers you care about them and set your business apart.
- Improved customer loyalty. As customers get positive outcomes from interacting with your business, and you deliver on the promises you’ve made, you build brand trust. This is paramount to cultivating a relationship in the long term and customer loyalty.
- Increased revenue. Businesses with a customer service focus are more profitable. With returning customers, you can make personalized recommendations based on their purchase history, opening up opportunities for upselling and cross-selling. And loyal customers also generate more revenue by promoting your brand to friends and family.
7 strategies to improve customer focus
Now that we know what customer focus is and its benefits, here are some ways you can build a customer-focused business.
1. Structure your company culture around customers
Putting customer focus values at the heart of your company culture unites employees under a common goal — even roles that don’t have day-to-day customer interactions. As everyone company wide becomes invested in creating a top-notch experience, employees can better collaborate and share their knowledge across departments.
2. Develop your front-line support teams
As customer facing employees come onboard, they need training that combines customer focus and orientation. They should also be given ongoing opportunities to sharpen their skills and set them up to succeed. The time and effort toward their professional growth will motivate them to do an even better job as they deal with customer issues daily.
3. Be where your customers are
Customers want to be able to interact with you on their preferred channels whether that be your website, chatbot, social media, or messaging apps.
4. Gather customer feedback
Customer feedback can give you invaluable insight to better understand customer needs, goals, and pain points throughout the buyer journey. You can solicit feedback through surveys and use the data you have on hand, including reviews, community forums, support agent suggestions, and customer service interactions.
Next, it’s essential to translate that feedback into action. This way, customers are assured that their input isn’t being ignored.
5. Centralize customer data
A customer oriented approach relies on the way you manage your customer data. You can consolidate all your customer information into one system. This way, everyone has access to the same information, breaking down silos between departments.
Employees gain a more holistic understanding of customers through their history and previous interactions. Knowing where customers are coming from enables agents to help them along their journey and provide more personalized customer service.
Finally, you spare customers from tediously retelling their background and information every time they reach out.
6. Implement technology to enhance your offerings
While technology doesn’t completely replace the human touch, you can use it to augment your support processes and customer experience.
AI chatbots can respond to common issues, guide customers with information, or triage requests for your agents — all while using CRM integrations for scaled personalization.
Self-service tools like help centers, knowledge bases, or FAQ pages give customers fast, convenient ways to address their own needs.
7. Use metrics for your customer focus objectives
You need the right metrics to measure your initiatives and understand the effectiveness of your efforts. Some common ones include customer satisfaction (CSAT) and net promoter score (NPS). These measurements also help track progress over time to see if you’re meeting expectations and identify ways to improve.
Customer focus examples
To get inspired, let’s review some examples of businesses that are great at applying customer focus to their customer service and support.
- Nordstrom. In an interview with the National Retail Federation, Shea Jensen, SVP of Customer Experience, says that a key to Nordstrom’s successful customer service is “constant focus on the customer.” And they live this by empowering their staff with the autonomy to make decisions in resolving customer issues (as documented in their employee handbook).
- REI. Newsweek included REI in their 2021 list of “America’s Best Customer Service Companies.” In an interview on “The Chief Customer Officer Human Duct Tape Show,” REI’s EVP and Chief Customer Officer, Ben Steele, discussed how they use customer focus and empathy to ideate solutions and shape their service approach. He also explained the significance of having “co-op” in their brand, framing customers as business partners.
- Alaska Airlines. Ranked as the top airline on Newsweek’s list, Alaska Airlines provides an extensive list of promises to their customers right on their website. Their site also includes a prominently displayed Help Center with various ways to get in touch or give feedback.
Instilling customer focus in everything you do
One of the most important things you can do as a business is put your customers first. You need to know who they are, their needs and wants, and how those change over time.
With advancing technology and rising consumer expectations, the more intentional you are with your customer focus strategy, the better you can satisfy and engage your customers to form long-lasting connections.
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