Relationships are King.
When you make a business decision for your company, do you consider its impact on your existing customers? Always? 100% of the time? Are you sure?
Customer-centric businesses never make a decision without considering how it will affect their most loyal clients. Customer-centricity is about nurturing a positive relationship with customers at every stage of their journey with you.
For example, at the massively successful online eyewear company Warby Parker, their culture page lays out the #1 rule for all employees: Treat customers the way we’d like to be treated. That’s a big reason for their net promoter score between 83 and 91, which is among the best companies in the world.
With this in mind, let’s look at five ways your company can become more customer-centric and focus on customers with clear, 20/20 vision.
1. Follow Needs, Not Trends
Every industry has trends that come and go. But if you put too much emphasis on providing the latest flavor-of-the-month in your products and services, you’re forgetting about what sits at the core of your business: customer needs.
Don’t assume you know what your customers want. Don’t base your offerings on trending Twitter topics, what’s popular on Instagram, or what you’re seeing in Google Trends. All of that is very helpful background info, but it’s not your #1 priority.
Instead, follow your customers’ needs. To reveal their needs simply ask them what they need in their daily lives. Here are some ways to do that:
During customer service interactions, openly invite feedback.
Offer online feedback forms.
Send emails that invite opinions.
Accept feedback by phone, text, chat, and many other formats.
Stay constantly connected with customers on social media.
2. Don’t Be Cold and Faceless
A customer-centric business is great at showing a warm, friendly face. Whenever customers interact with a business like this, they experience welcoming language, visual images of actual human beings, and other cheerful stuff.
Apple is world-famous for doing this. When you turn on a new Apple device, the first word you see is, “Hello.” You can chat with your device by saying, “Hey, Siri.” If you go to an Apple store, someone will come greet you immediately upon arrival.
In fact, did you know Apple has a 5-sentence customer-centric motto based on the letters in its name?
Approach customers with a personalized, warm welcome.
Probe politely to understand all the customer’s needs.
Present a solution for the customer to take home today.
Listen for and resolve any issues or concerns.
End with a fond farewell and an invitation to return.
3. Offer Two-Way Customer Service
Here’s another way customer-centric companies stand out from the competition: They talk with their customers, not at their customers. Instead of blasting out all kinds of generic information, they make it a priority to engage in genuine, personalized, two-way conversations.
Sometimes, the best way to accomplish this is through an informal chat window or instant messaging system. Other times, it’s even better to step away from the internet and speak to your customers by telephone or even in person.
Want proof? Ask Zappos.com CEO Tony Hseih, who revitalized the struggling online shoe retailer by focusing on individualized customer service. Hseih realized that at some point, almost every Zappos customer called them on the phone. He retrained his customer service employees to “create an emotional impact and a lasting memory” that left a positive impression on every customer.
(Pssst: It worked. Zappos’ net worth went from literally zero in 1999 to $840 million today.)
4. Go Far Beyond the Purchase
It’s time to stop thinking of purchases as one-time transactions and view them as part of a much larger and more robust customer relationship. If you’re just throwing information at customers and hoping they’ll make another purchase, you’re basically pitch-slapping them – and that’s a terrible habit.
Nourish your existing customer relationships by tailoring your communications to their precise needs. When they buy something around the holidays, take notice and follow up the next year by asking, “Did you need this again for the holidays?”
If they’ve made several small purchases from you, follow up with a personalized bundle that will save them money in the future. They’ll appreciate the thought and begin to view your company as a helpful solution to their everyday problems.
5. Try a Customer-centric Measurement Tool
Finally, we encourage you to get real about the current status of your customer service and find fresh, innovative ways to connect with your customers. Here’s a fast and easy way to get a status report: the free Customer-centric Measurement Tool from Atomic Design & Consulting.
This tool helps you easily measure your company’s support, service, and overall customer focus, so you can see where you stand. It’s your secret weapon for becoming a truly customer-centric company.