Customers have become the central focus of businesses in the twenty first century. A lot of information and control is there in the hands of businesses. It is why businesses have increased their focus on customer experience and customer service. Companies understand the value of being customer driven and several of them are known for their obsession with customer experience. For example, Apple is known industrywide for its customer obsession. Being customer focused or customer driven has its own benefits. Apart from increased customer satisfaction and higher loyalty as well as improved customer relationships, these companies also enjoy the financial benefits of being customer driven in the form of a stronger bottom line.
What do the customer driven companies do differently?
First of all, they create customer driven policies. They make customer a central focus of everything from product design to distribution, sales and marketing. Adopting customer focused policies can help businesses find new opportunities of growth and advancement.
Customer focus reflects in every aspect of a customer driven organization’s operations. Customer centricity is not just about business operations or business policies but smart companies make customer focus a part of their organizational culture. Throughout the industry across various sectors, the leading businesses have made customer centricity a part of their culture. From the retail industry to the technology industry, and even food and fashion industries, customer centricity is a part of organizational culture for various industry leaders.
Take for example, two retail leaders – Walmart and Costco. Both are leaders in the US retail sector. However, when it comes to customer focus both are known for being customer driven despite their different approaches. It is a part of their organizational culture and the central reason behind their success. Here is a list of actions that customer driven companies take regularly to maintain their customer focus.
- Customer driven companies reward loyalty through loyalty programs and by other means.
- They engage their customers through social media and other platforms.
- They focus on and value customer feedback. Several of them carry out customer surveys related to the purchases they made to know about customer satisfaction and improving customer experience.
- They carry out research to understand customer behavior, buying decisions, trends and customer preferences so as to serve their customers better.
- They carry out regular meetings to discuss customer behavior and consumer preferences and create a policy and environment that helps drive customer focus.
- They focus on higher customer experience in both physical and online environments.
- They try to learn what their customers care about or what they value. These companies invest in causes that their customers support.
- They focus on innovation to maximize customer satisfaction and to deliver the highest value to the customers.
- Apart from that they focus on providing employee training for customer service.
How to be a customer driven company?
Being a customer driven company requires focusing on various aspects of your organizational culture and operations. An organization cannot be a customer driven company without making it a part of its culture. However, here are some steps businesses can take to become more customer focused.
- Know your market and target audience:
The first key step to being a customer driven company is to know your target audience. Companies must know their customers well to serve them better. For example, as companies embark on the journey to being more customer centric, must carry out market research to know who buys their product. Customer preferences can differ by customer demographics. For example, if your target market is mainly composed of younger customers or millennials and Gen Z, you would like to develop a customer engagement strategy using social media channels. Knowing your target market helps you develop better ways to reach them and improve the level of customer convenience.
- Know your customers’ needs, desires and preferences:
After knowing your target market or who your customers are, it is important to learn about their needs, preferences and desires. This might need some advanced level of research to understand your customer’s buying behavior. Companies carry out surveys and market research to understand customer needs better. Apart from it, there is a lot of data that is generated daily through various transactions at several customer touchpoints. Companies can use this data to see if there are areas where thy can make improvements or any unmet customer needs requiring attention. Once you have developed a better understanding of your customers’ needs, preferences and desires, you can create policies that help cater to their needs and desires better.
- Create customer driven organizational policies and processes:
In order to develop a customer driven identity, the target of your policies and processes must be your customers. Focus on creating policies that target specific customer needs and desires. Apart from that, the focus of your policies should also be on improving customer service. While most companies have dedicated customer support functions, it is generally not enough for being customer driven. Create policies that make it easier for customers to reach the customer service department and representatives. Make customer convenience a priority for the customer support reps and people in other functions too. Customer service should not be a focus of only the customer support function but other functions too must develop a mindset of customer centricity. Organization leaders must focus on developing an organizational culture of customer service.
- Incorporate customer feedback into operations and management:
One of the most important ways to become more customer oriented is to listen to your customers. To successfully improve customer satisfaction and customer experience, managers must be ready to listen to what customers are saying along various channels including social media and the other channels. Companies regularly collect customer feedback to learn about customer satisfaction level with products and services and any other aspects of business that can be improved. Customer feedback is very important for businesses aspiring to become customer driven. It is their single most reliable source of information for making improvements to products and processes. Many times, it has helped companies develop new ideas that found immense success.
- Focus on customer engagement:
Another considerably easy method if you want to be more customer driven as a company is to engage with customers across all the relevant platforms. While social media channels, email and other communication methods are commonly used to engage customers, blogging can also help connect with customers and engage and inform them. If the company’s target audience mainly includes young customers, then social media can be a highly effective channel to engage with users. You must also demonstrate your customer dedication in marketing and create engaging marketing campaigns. Higher customer engagement is also a vital sign of being a customer driven company.
- Focus on rewarding your loyal customers:
Customer driven companies find it easier to build loyal customers that make repeat purchases from them. They also reward customer loyalty. Customer driven companies have their focus on managing stronger customer relationships. Many companies have excellent loyalty programs that provide rewards for customer loyalty. It can be anything like a discount or a free product or service or any other special privilege that makes your customers feel valued and rewarded. Recognizing customers publicly or making them a part of your marketing strategy can also be a great way of demonstrating customer focus and making your loyal customers feel valued included. Several companies highlight their important customers on social media pages and their newsletters. Rewarding customer loyalty is also an excellent method of building stronger customer relationship.
A few last words about being customer driven:
It is important for business leaders and managers to remember that the customer is the most important part of their business and building customer loyalty requires demonstrating customer focus. While the level of competition across the various sectors has grown a lot, companies need to be more customer driven to find long term success. Being truly customer centric or customer driven requires focus on the organizational culture. There are several examples of a customer driven business strategy and organizational culture for businesses to learn from. Take for example, Walmart or Costco which have grown successful by demonstrating excellent customer focus. You need to build an organizational culture that makes the customer its central focus. This will help you create the drive organization-wide to be more customer driven and achieve higher loyalty.