Can you make your company truly 'Customer First'?

· Operations

As an entrepreneur and as a global operations leader responsible for customer satisfaction, I had only two rules— “Rule 1: The customer is always right. Rule 2: If the customer is ever wrong, re-read Rule 1”. These two rules—originally given by Stew Leonard—can form the foundation of any customer-centric business.

Many companies have customer-centric values like “customer-first” and “customer is king''  etc. Easier said than done,  most companies struggle  to really build a culture that is truly customer-first, especially when it comes to non-customer-facing functions. 

So today in this blog, I will share some of my experiences of having built customer-first businesses. Here are some easy ways to transform your organization into a customer-first company:

Build a high quality customer service team

The customer service team is your front-line warrior. They interact regularly with your customers bringing your company values face-to-face with them. 

Good customer support is not a cost to the company, rather an asset that helps in generating more revenue and overall growth. Don’t believe it? Neither did I, but when I read that in financial services, a 5% increase in customer retention produces more than a 25% increase in profit, I knew I was just touching the tip of the iceberg.

Why does this happen? Well, a repeat purchaser is likely to spend more—upwards of 60% —on your brand than a new one. Moreover, the cost of retaining a customer is usually lower than the cost of acquiring a new one.

So, I worked with my team to install the right CSAT and NPS metrics to measure the real-time impact.  And, it was clear that customers who received prompt, relevant & thoughtful responses were much more likely to continue their paid subscription. 

Bring in the personal touch

In a world of artificially intelligent bots, it is important to make human connections and make your customer feel valued. More so because 70%+  of customers believe that customer service is a representation of how a business values them.

A small hand-written note, personalized email, birthday discounts, surprise discounts, etc. can make a big difference in what your customers feel about you. But what makes the most difference is your everyday conversations. That’ll seal the deal for you! Consider customer service as your competitive advantage. 

Pro-tip: Automation + Personalization = Successful Customer Service!

Use data to improve customer experience

From awareness to customer retention, map customer journey & use that information to take business action. Run A/B tests and build causation over correlations. 

In fact, I have realized that the customer service team is a powerhouse of customer insight. Talk, talk and talk to them!

Make your customers feel they are heard

Send monthly, quarterly, or half-yearly surveys to your customers for detailed insights on what exactly they want.  Put in time to consider their feedback and use it to improve the product. But, that’s something that every business is trying to do and must absolutely do.

If you like to go an extra-mile then adopt proactive customer service. Don’t wait for customers to report issues. Rather, reach out to them proactively. That way, customers know you're constantly working to remove roadblocks from their user experience. What a great marketing tool as well!

Align functions to adopt a “customer-first” mindset

In most organizations, customer service is the only team interacting with customers; so naturally they are the only ones who truly understand the customers’ pain-points and the aha-moments . 

However, when it comes to many senior leaders and internal facing teams, they rarely get to see the full picture.

The best way to allow employees to put customers first is by providing everyone a chance to listen to the customer. If every team in the company ties their roles to customer success, you will be customer-first in the truest sense. 

This is absolutely doable. During my early days as an entrepreneur, I used to ask every employee at my startup to manage the website chat for at least three days in a month.

At a large social network’s headquarters in the Bay Area, the way to generate empathy for the slow speed of internet connectivity in the developing countries was to provide a low speed throttling experience to the leadership one day a week, so that they could feel the customer’s pain real time!

Remember, all of this takes time. But once it's done...the entire company benefits from adopting a “customer-first” mindset. At the end of the day, how you treat your customers will define how far you go as a company.  

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