What is Customer Focus and how to improve it in 2022

Customer Experience

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It’s easy to claim you put your customers first, but it takes more effort to operate a truly customer-focused business. For many companies, it’s merely lip service to say they’re “customer-focused,” and customers notice that insincerity. Instead, manage your entire company through a customer-focused approach to ensure a greater customer experience. 

Your business can be authentically customer-focused with a few mindful actions and optimized business processes. In this article, we’ll show you how to build a customer-focused business strategy to better meet customer needs and expectations. We’ll cover the following:

  • What is customer focus?
  • Why is customer focus important?
  • What are examples of customer focus? 
  • How do you establish customer focus?
  • Using Idiomatic to become a customer-focused company

What is customer focus? 

Customer focus includes business practices and actions that put the customer’s needs first. Customer-focused companies listen to what their customers say and consider it in every decision. 

For example:

  • Sales teams speaking to potential customers with a focus on solving their pain points.
  • Support teams and help desk staff honestly listening to feedback and directing complaints and positive comments to relevant teams.
  • Analytics teams gathering customer data in the voice of the customer to get more accurate insights for various internal departments. 
  • Operation teams making business decisions based on what the customer would benefit most from, not what will bring in the most revenue. 
  • Product teams adding products, services, features, and support that help solve the customers’ pain points.
  • Marketing teams getting insights from customer research and feedback to adjust messaging and campaigns. 

Is customer focus the same as customer satisfaction?

Although related, customer focus is not the same as customer satisfaction. Customer focus naturally leads to better customer satisfaction. When your business is more customer-centric, you’re likely better at meeting their needs, which makes them happier, increasing your customer satisfaction scores. 

Why is customer focus important? 

Customer focus is essential for engaging with your customers. People want their problems solved, or their lives made easier with your product or service, and a growing amount of consumers no longer want to feel like just another number. 

In fact, according to a Salesforce study, 56% of customers expect all offers to be personalized—up from 52% in 2020 and 49% in 2019.

Your customer expects you to anticipate their needs and treat them like unique individuals. If you’re not, they’re likely to be less loyal or leave your brand altogether. And if brand-loyalty and business growth are important to you, a customer-focused mindset should be a high priority. 

What are examples of customer focus? 

Going above and beyond your customer’s expectations is an excellent customer focus strategy. These experiences include everything from how they communicate with your brand to the products themselves. 

Here are some customer focus examples of companies that are excelling at analyzing to their customer behavior to anticipate customer needs:

1. Apple (Technology)

Apple is an excellent example of a customer-focused company. They’re well-known for providing above-and-beyond service and products to their customers. Apple offers mobile bookings for consultations and repairs, in-store workshops and classes, comprehensive warranty programs, and regular technology updates based on customer feedback. And the Apple company culture is one of friendliness, as is apparent the second you walk into a store or engage their team over a web chat. 

2. Zappos (Clothing retailer)

Zappos sells shoes, clothing, and accessories and puts its customers first. Every employee is encouraged to put customer experience at the top of their priorities. They ensure employees have a customer focused mindset through a four-week boot camp for all new hires (to review company history, values, and processes), a mandatory two-week assignment in their call center for all new staff, and a 2-interview hiring process (to assess skills and their corporate fit and personality). They also make it easy to contact them for support, with their support link next to their website’s logo.  

Their work shows as their NPS score ranks them #33 among retail brands and #1 amongst their direct competitors with a +45 NPS score

3. Starbucks and Mcdonald’s (Food and beverage)

These companies have listened to their customers over the past few years and enhanced their mobile offerings. Both companies implemented customer-focus strategies that allow customers to pre order food and beverages for pick-up and offer reward programs linked to their digital loyalty cards (rather than relying on physical loyalty cards). 

4. Slack

The Slack platform helps teams better communicate. Their brand always puts the customer first. A key customer-first strategy for Slack is to prioritize responding to all support queries and tickets as quickly as possible. They attribute this strategy to much of their growth success. They also listen to the voice of their customer and read customer feedback continually, and plan regular updates to their platform, based on what they hear from customers. 

5. eBay

eBay has what’s been called a “human ecosystem” that focuses on the customer. As a fully digital platform and business, being people-centric was always their goal and we love them for it. They heard that small business owners wanted to use the platform, but found its consumer focus not business friendly. eBay listened and it’s now one of the biggest online auction websites for both consumers and businesses. 

How do you establish customer focus? 

To truly understand your customer, you need to understand the entire customer journey. You need to

  1. Know your customer’s pain points (in their words, not your assumption).
  2. Solve their pain points with every business decision.

Here are a few specific examples of how you can provide exceptional customer experiences through different stages of the customer journey:

  • Pre-Purchase: Ensure all website visitors can find what they need in three clicks or less.
  • Purchase: Provide fast check-out process, and cheap (or free) shipping methods.
  • Onboarding: Ensure that all support calls can be solved through one customer support rep.
  • Early customer education: Provide self-service communication channels (knowledge bases, customer portals).
  • Loyal customers: Provide easy ways for customers to renew or cancel their service.

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10 ways to improve your customer focus 

Here are other, more general strategies that your company can use to be a more customer-focused company in 2022:

  1. Hire the right people
  2. Open communication between costumes and employees
  3. Foster positive company culture
  4. Create transparent internal communications
  5. Track customer metrics and collect customer feedback data
  6. Leverage your customer feedback and behavior data
  7. Invest in learning (internally and externally)
  8. Innovate based on customer feedback
  9. Have a proactive marketing communications plan
  10. Fill your customer success toolbox

1. Hire the right people 

Even with all the right processes and systems in place, if your employees are rude or don’t act in alignment with company values, it’ll affect your customer experience. Customer-focused businesses will take extra care to hire those with the right personality and values to best represent their brand. 

2. Open communication between customers and employees

One of the biggest features of a customer-focused company is one with open lines of communication between customers and staff. This might mean having multiple ways to communicate, including:

  • Online feedback systems
  • Customer satisfaction surveys
  • Live chat system
  • Chatbots
  • An active social media presence
  • Forums or online communities

3. Foster positive company culture

Happy employees will work harder for your business and customers. Foster a customer-focused culture and community of clear communication, incentives, and workshops to help employees develop customer-focus skills. You can appoint a Chief Customer Officer to oversee your corporate culture and how it relates to increasing customer satisfaction. 

4. Create transparent internal communications

Any insights from customer feedback and behaviour data you collect should be shared with your internal teams. For example, by sharing that your customers are consistently complaining about their inability to find a specific product or feature on your website, your UX team might look into a site redesign to increase usability and conversions. If you find through customer feedback analysis that many customers are complaining about a similar pain point, you may want to communicate this with your product team to release a feature that addresses this pain point.

5. Track customer metrics and collect customer feedback data

Develop a customer-focused strategy to collect and analyze customer feedback and behavior data. Customers may not always tell you what they like or don’t like, but you can use data (like support inquiries, exit surveys, and app usage stats) to get a clear picture of customer sentiment and where they are satisfied or dissatisfied with your brand. 

You can also collect data from:

  • Net Promoter Score (NPS) 
  • Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) Score
  • Customer Effort Scores (CES)
  • Custom surveys

It will help if you track and collect data on your customer lifetime value (CLV), customer retention rate (CRR), and customer churn rate (CCR). Knowing these important metrics can help you see if your customer-focused strategies have the positive impact you expected. 

6. Leverage your customer feedback and behaviour data

Just collecting customer feedback and data on your customer’s behaviors isn’t going to make them happier. Use your collected data to determine areas of improvement and success, and take action to improve. It’s this action that will win you the loyalty of your customers. 

The fastest way to analyze large amounts of customer feedback data is using a system like Idiomatic, which will take your raw data and, using machine learning, analyze and generate valuable and actionable customer insights. Using these insights, you can better retain existing customers, lower customer churn, and create more satisfied customers.

Use your customer feedback data to provide great customer service, and you’ll meet or exceed customer expectations by making customers feel heard. 

Learn how FabFitFun used Idiomatic’s AI solution to tackle customer churn 

7. Invest in learning (internally and externally)

Learning and educational opportunities are helpful for both internal and external audiences:

  • Internally, you can provide workshops or skills-upgrade opportunities to teach customer success strategies so each employee across the entire company can learn how they can contribute to improved customer focus activities. 
  • Externally, you can provide customers with educational opportunities (like workshops and tutorials) to teach them about your products and services. This proactive customer-focused strategy is excellent for reducing customer complaints (due to not knowing how to use your product) and to build customer loyalty and trust by ingraining your workshops with your customer-centric values. 

8. Innovate based on customer feedback

While it can be tempting to add a new feature or product that you think is “cool,” if it’s not something that either solves a clearly defined customer pain point or responds to overwhelming customer feedback, it may not be as successful. Focus your innovations and growth on what will provide the biggest reward for your customers. 

Learn more about why customer intelligence is important and how to build customer intelligence for positive business results

9. Have a proactive marketing communications plan

Customers expect companies to be open and honest. Have a policy to communicate any important news to customers immediately before they hear it from someone else, like a competitor. 

For example, if you’re expecting your SaaS platform to be down for maintenance on Friday night between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., send out a communication to all customers notifying them of the event. Use this opportunity to explain why you’re shutting down (e.g., to fix a bug or add newly requested features). 

10. Fill your customer success toolbox

Improving customer focus is best achieved through customer success tools. Your employees are perhaps the most important tool at your disposal, as they have a direct link to your customers. Also, use a series of digital tools to help you manage, monitor, and improve customer focus. 

Here are some helpful tools that customer-focused businesses are using to delight their customers

  • Data Collection tools. These tools are great for collecting and gathering customer intelligence: 
  • Data measurement and analysis. These tools help make combining and analyzing data from multiple sources easier and more accurate:
  • Other helpful tools: Build your customer focus toolbox with other apps and platforms to create a positive customer focus including: 
    • Email marketing software (to collect customer demographic data and disseminate communication quickly)
    • Social media profiles (to interact with customers and monitor customer sentiment)
    • Customer support systems (to manage and address customer support inquiries promptly). 
    • Data analytics software (to take your customer feedback data, gain insight into the current state, and predict future trends). 
    • Customer Relationship Management software (for your sales team to better track and drive sales)

Using Idiomatic to become a customer-focused company

When you build a customer-focused approach into your business, you’re telling your customers that you care about more than your revenue. As a customer-focused organization, you put their needs first (which makes your customers happy). As a bonus, it will likely lead to more revenue and new customers because you’re showing that you understand your audience. 

It starts with fostering a customer-focused culture among your employees, then adapting your business model to investing in your customer’s success. When you’re done building a customer-focused culture and business practices, you should begin analyzing customer data and business growth to see if your initiatives are putting customers first and increasing their satisfaction.

Idiomatic is an AI-driven customer intelligence platform that removes the need for manual analysis of your customer feedback data. Using sophisticated machine learning, Idiomatic can help you become a truly customer-focused company. 

Request a free demo of Idiomatic to learn how it can help you better understand your customers’ needs so you can make the right business decisions to meet their needs. 

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