Being a customer-focused business requires action, not just lip service. Authentically customer-centric organizations often see greater customer satisfaction, increased customer loyalty, and increased revenues. It’s a win-win scenario for your customers and your business.
Some of the world’s most well-known brands, like Starbucks, Slack, McDonald’s, and Hilton Hotels, have prioritized the needs of their customers, and they’ve seen the benefits to their bottom line. No matter the size of your organization, you can implement a customer-first focus and see the same benefits, including increased customer satisfaction and increased revenue.
In this article, you’ll learn what it means to be customer focused, the benefits your business can reap, highlight real-life examples, and share expert tips to help you boost your customer-centricity.
- What does it mean to have a customer focused company?
- Benefits of having a customer focus
- 6 customer focus examples
- How to develop a customer focus
- 8 ways to improve customer focus
- How Idiomatic fits into a customer focused strategy
What does it mean to have a customer focused company?
Customer-focused (or customer-centric businesses) are designed to put the customer’s needs first. Customer-focused companies listen to their customers and act on their feedback to create a better customer experience. These companies look for every opportunity to study customer conversations and interactions to learn more about their pain points and what they expect from your business.
Examples of customer focus actions include:
- A well-thought out customer support strategy
- Listening and implementing customer feedback
- Building personalized experiences
- Delivering on promises
- Evolving based on customer needs
- Creating a customer-focused culture with staff
Benefits of having a customer focus
Having a customer-focused culture may seem like a selfless act for the business, but it does have some incredible benefits that positively affect profits and customer loyalty:
- Increases positive brand perception: Being known as a company that values (and acts on) customer opinions can increase positive brand awareness. And when people think positively about your brand, you’re more likely to increase your following and customer base because you’re known as a trusted brand.
- Increases customer satisfaction: By implementing changes based directly on customer feedback and continually improving your offerings, you will better meet customer needs. When customers feel listened to, their customer satisfaction increases, which you’ll notice in customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.
- Lowers customer churn: When customers are happier, they often buy more or buy again. If your company relies on repeat or long-term customers, you’ll notice your customer churn rates lower as customers remain loyal longer.
- Increases revenue potential: When customers are happier, they generally spend more on your company through repeat purchases or subscription renewals. They’ll also likely tell their friends, reducing acquisition costs and leading to increased revenue.
- Happier staff: Many customer-focused companies also have happier staff. Many companies like Hilton Hotels, McDonald’s, and Lululemon have clear customer-centric strategies and often make national or international “best places to work” lists.
6 customer focus examples
To inspire, here are six examples of large brands that have excellent examples of customer-focused strategies that yielded big successes:
Hubspot is a customer relationship management software and customer relationships is at the core of its corporate values too. They’re publicly committed to putting customers first and it’s shown through their 10 tenets to hold themselves accountable:
- Earn my attention, don’t steal it
- Treat me like a person, not a persona
- Solve for my success, not your systems
- Use my data, but don’t abuse it
- Ask for feedback, and act on it
- Own your screw-ups
- Help me help you, by helping myself
- I don’t mind paying, but I do mind getting played.
- Don’t block the exit
- Do the right thing, even when it’s hard.
Their commitment to their customers shows, too. In 2022, their revenue was up 33% compared to 2021.
The evolution of the Starbucks ordering process was similarly informed by listening to their customers. They saw that their customers often hurried to grab a coffee before going to work or school, so they implemented fast mobile ordering through their app. However, they maintain their in-store ordering and cafes to avoid alienating customers who enjoy a more relaxed and casual coffee experience. They also implemented a loyalty program to say thanks to their loyal customers.
Slack is a digital communication and chat software, well-known for hyper-growth due to their customer-centric principles. They focus more on the customer experience, rather than sales and marketing, using real time feedback from their customers to improve. Slack measures metrics like Net Promoter Scores (NPS) and Customer Experience Scores (CES), rather than focusing too heavily on the financial metrics, which improve over time due to their happy customers. They claim some of their greatest new features have come from customer feedback and suggestions.
👉Learn more about how to measure customer satisfaction for your brand.
In a customer-focused company, measuring brand loyalty helps you see if your customer-centric strategies are working. At the core of Hilton Hotel’s customer retention strategy is their loyalty program, which is continuously evolving based on feedback they receive from their guests. Some well-received customer-informed improvements to their program include receiving more points per night, adding an Elite membership for their most loyal customers, and including rollover nights.
The Patagonia apparel brand has always been environmentally focused. But, they heard their customers wanted more, so they deepened their commitment to environmental sustainability and made their sustainability and ethical business practices more transparent. This transparency builds the brand trust Patagonia needs to earn new loyal customers with similar sustainability values.
This apparel retailer encourages their staff to put the customer experience first. They send all new hires to a four-week bootcamp, then for a two-week assignment in the call center. This onboarding process helps new hires understand the customer journey and how it fits in the business processes, so they can better support their customers, no matter what their role is in the company.
👉Read more examples of customer focused companies.
How to develop a customer focus
There are five steps to developing a customer focused strategy for your business:
1. Get internal buy-in
Before you can embark on your journey towards customer focus, you need to get buy-in from your top executives to your customer-side staff. Also, you need to coordinate a cohesive strategy of feedback collection, analysis, and action across the entire company to avoid siloed approaches.
A company-wide strategy will ensure that any insights you learn from your customers can be efficiently communicated to the correct internal team for action. A Chief Customer Officer (CCO) can lead your strategy, ensuring your voice of customer and other customer-centric strategies are used across the organization.
2. Listen to your customers
Many businesses claim to listen to their customers, but few do. A customer-focused company will listen to their customer to uncover four key things:
- What do they need? This is about uncovering your customers’ pain points or struggles that lead them to your solution. Knowing what problems your offerings solve is critical to aligning your business, sales, and marketing strategies. The closer your offerings solve real customer needs, the better your chances of attracting new clients and increasing client retention rates are.
- What influences their decision-making? Two of the most significant decisions you need to know are “what influences their decision to buy” and “what influences their decision to buy again or renew.” With this information, you can ensure that your sales and marketing strategies cater to either their emotional needs (such as a frustrated small business owner losing revenue and wanting to purchase an accounting course) or influential external situations (such as an injury leading the customer to buy a band-aid).
- What is their end result? This is about managing expectations. If you want to increase customer retention, encourage repeat purchases, and build a loyal customer base, you want to ensure that your offerings get the end result they need and expect. If not, you’ll see lower repeat customers and decreased customer retention.
- How do they feel about your brand? Perception of your brand is critical. Measuring customers’ feelings about your brand is a key indicator of customer loyalty. You can measure customers’ emotions through customer satisfaction surveys and use machine learning analysis to understand the emotional meaning behind written responses and transcripts.
You can listen to your customers through various channels, including:
- Social media (what they’re saying about your brand and your competitor’s brands)
- Chat transcripts
- Post-purchase surveys
- Subscription renewal surveys
- Help desk tickets
- Customer service call recordings
3. Analyze your data
Once you have collected your customer data, your team needs to look at the data to uncover trends and critical insights. This can be done manually if you have a small number of feedback records (such as analyzing 25 survey results from a client survey). However, for larger amounts of data across multiple channels and systems, using machine learning can provide more accurate sentiment analysis and deeper insights that manual analysis can’t get.
For example, with Idiomatic, you can analyze millions of customer feedback pieces that come from customer surveys, chat conversations, social media, and other voice-of-customer data sources to understand the true meaning behind the customer feedback. A tool like Idiomatic can help you uncover which issues are truly causing the most friction for your customers and where you have opportunities and easy wins to earn customer satisfaction and loyalty.
👉Get our expert tips on doing customer feedback analysis.
4. Act on your insights
Based on your analysis of your voice of customer data, you need to determine which insights should be actioned on. You won’t be able to address or change every single customer request, so you’ll need to prioritize which align with your business goals and values.
Hilton hotels acted upon feedback from their customers and they noticed a 20% increase in bookings in a single quarter.
5. Maintain a customer focused culture
Your customer-focused strategies should not be a one-and-done project. The most successful customer-focused companies make this a continual process where they constantly collect, analyze, and act on insights from customer feedback.
It can be helpful to provide regular training or workshops on customer focus skills so they remain top of mind for your staff.
8 ways to improve customer focus
If your company wants to experience the benefits of customer focus, there are many places to begin:
Collect more specific feedback
Look for places where you can collect voice of customer feedback. If there are specific areas of the customer experience you suspect are underperforming, start with collecting feedback there. Then, ensure you’re collecting feedback from various stages of the customer journey and various customer types and experiences to get a full picture.
Don’t be too pushy
While having lots of customer feedback is good, you don’t want your customers to feel bombarded with requests for feedback at every corner. Be selective in your methods to collect user feedback and how often you solicit it so your customers don’t get overwhelmed and stop providing feedback. Be purposeful where you place feedback surveys and data collection so you don’t distract from the user experience.
First, ensure your team understands the benefits of creating a customer-first culture for the brand. Then encourage your teams to collaborate with each other on projects and initiatives that create positive customer experiences.
Tell the world when you make a change based on voice of customer insights. For example, if you add a new product feature because customers requested it, post on social media that this new feature was informed by customer feedback. If you have the data to support it, also send a “personal” message to anyone who requested that feature to let them know it’s been created (and to thank them for sharing).
Act on feedback to increase customer satisfaction
Customers hate being asked to provide feedback but never seeing that feedback turn into a reality. When collecting feedback, act on as much as you can, knowing that it’s not always in your business’s best interest to act on every piece of feedback. Focus on insights that affect the largest number of users or which has the potential to have the most significant positive impact on the customer experience.
Increase your brand’s and employee’s empathy
Measure the empathy of your customer-facing staff using customer feedback survey questions that ask how understood and respected they felt in interactions with staff.
Feedback such as, “The agent really listened to my concerns” show that they are being genuine and empathetic when conversing with customers. If you’re not seeing similar positive results, look at providing them with empathy training and support.
👉Learn more about how you can improve empathy in customer service.
Hire the right people
Hiring the right people with natural empathy and customer-service mindsets is essential. If your staff are grumbly and disinterested when dealing with customers, this will negatively impact the customer experience. If employees need help learning customer-centric skills, you can provide them with training, support, or mentorship.
Innovate based on feedback
Include listening to customer feedback as part of your innovation process. Listen to their perspectives on your offerings and use their feedback to innovate and provide better customer experiences. This could open up new ideas and opportunities you may never have thought of because you’re too close to the product.
How Idiomatic fits into a customer focused strategy
If a customer-focused strategy is about listening to your customers and acting on their feedback, then Idiomatic makes a perfect addition to your customer-centric business strategy. This customer feedback analytics software works by:
- Collecting all your voice of customer data in one place (through integrations).
- Using sophisticated algorithms and machine learning, it categorizes your mountains of data (it can even pre-tag tickets for your agents).
- Analyzing the data to identify customer pain points, drivers, and sentiments.
- Giving you actionable takeaways and insights to make improvements, fast.
Idiomatic provides your customer-focused organization with human quality insights at scale. This means no more manually analyzing data anymore. Your teams can reinvest their efforts into acting on the insights that improve the customer experience.
Learn more about how Idiomatic’s customer satisfaction software can support your customer-focus strategies.