Engineering Your Customer Focus

A truly customer centric organisation is displaying three behaviours effectively and persistently:

  • Gaining deep insight on customer interactions, satisfiers and needs.
  • Offering great products fulfilling immediate needs, with other well penetrated value added services.
  • Delivering great service and communication through knowledgeable customer support, sales and marketing teams.

With this combination in place you may earn trust, which reinforces positive brand values and makes engagement habit forming. At this point, you may consider yourself as the class leader in your market.

In tune with your market?

So what does “class leading” look like?:

  • Are you ahead of the curve: innovating where others follow? Are you learning what the market wants, assessing competitors’ mistakes and improving the experience?
  • Are you operating at optimal service quality? Are your customers delighted by the basics every day, so that it is natural to talk about deeper, richer relationships?
  • Are you the authoritative voice in your market? When you offer an opinion via an article, at a seminar or perhaps social media, does it create a reaction? Are you part of your customer’s intelligence as it works through its own business plan?

All essential questions to answer as you pass through each stage of your business evolution.

As we grow, we risk losing focus

A young, energetic business runs around storming and forming, responding rapidly to client needs just because it can. Growth at any (relatively small) cost is fine for now. But as it gets bigger, more procedures and complexity impact on flexibility and it becomes focused on control, rigour and standardisation – and that way danger lies for the customer-centric organisation.

That’s not to say control and rigour goes out the window, but you run the risk of introspection, trying to create an optimal margin engine that is fine in theory, but you lose sight of what is needed to make it tick over – the customer and their, often very human, needs.

Should your business ever fall into this trap, you must remove complexity and think simplicity, at least, in front of the customer. Work out how to overcome the barriers behind the scenes. This “clear the decks for the customer” mindset that ensures you think of what will satisfy their differential needs first. Yes, it may need more investment, but it has pay back.

Always place yourself in their shoes when looking for successful outcomes. For example, a business keen on acquiring a client but doesn’t offer the service, could go and buy it from someone who does to cement the relationship. You ‘fess up that you don’t do it, but you give them a solution and get them to your core service – customer centric, not “We Don’t Do That”.

Customers and satisfiers are all different

    • Think about your customer touch points. Not just the service centre, but finance, suppliers, channel partners too. Recognise what’s most important but at least prioritise being open and engaged with them all. Question the preference for management cost reduction vs. customer delight and the long term value of retaining them.
    • Segment your market so you understand the satisfiers – these vary by different customer values and the outputs needed (price, efficiency, quality). You can’t be all things to all people, but you should recognise what it costs (to gain or to lose) if you get most of the way there.
    • Track customer satisfaction through regular user groups, a simple e-shot with an online survey tool, or a Net Promoter Score for peer to peer engagement. Above all, keep a dialogue of customer service engagement ongoing with your customers.
  • Follow the “You Said, We Did” model. Receive feedback, act on it by delivering product or service enhancements and then communicate the proof to reinforce your customer focus message.

Remember – engines run with fuel. You can build a great engine that ticks the optimal performance box, but it won’t go anywhere without the element that creates the spark – the customer. Understand how this can be a catalyst for growth by tuning in to their needs.


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