The overall audience structure in business is typically categorized in two ways: B2B (or business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer). But perhaps the better way to think of how we reach our audience is P2P: Person-to-person.
No matter what fancy corporate lingo you do or do not use in your marketing strategy, every customer you have is just a person. They make decisions not only with logic, but also emotion. They want to be treated well when they walk in your door. They want to feel welcomed and acknowledged. To do that, you need to ensure the core purpose of your business is to make satisfied customers by building a culture that is customer-centric.
Remember, the customer is why any business exists. So, without a satisfied customer, you have no business to speak of.
How to build a customer-centric culture:
1. A customer-centric culture starts at the top
Just as a child looks up to a parent for how to act, interact, and communicate, so does an employee look up to their manager or business owner for the same type of leadership. A true leader of a customer-centric culture should display and encourage a servant-leadership approach to business. Treat your employees well. Don't believe that you are "above" any task. Have lunch with them. The way you treat your employees will have a direct correlation to how they treat your customers.
Here are a few ways you as a leader can start building a customer-centric organization:
- Establish a steering committee made up of all levels of the organization
- Design a governance model to handle and respond to all customer issues
- Conduct regular meetings to review any new customer-facing topics and implement continuous improvement strategies (once a month)
- Build customer service curriculum specific to your business
- Provide visibility to the entire organization on initiatives and progress
2. A customer-centric culture is a daily focus
It's important to train new staff on how to treat customers well. Make sure that every staff member completes customer service training based upon curriculum designed by the steering committee.
But don't stop there.
Keep reiterating the importance of customer service and how to treat customers well every day. Make sure your front line staff conducts brief daily “huddles” to discuss and review recent customer feedback and interactions. Don’t allow this meeting to become sidetracked with other topics or issues (financial performance, HR issues, project updates, etc.).
3. A customer-centric culture PROACTIVELY seeks feedback from their customers
In order to truly improve, you NEED feedback from your customers. No one will satisfy 100% of their customers 100% of the time. But it's important to learn how you're doing from an outsider's perspective so you can satisfy 99.9% of the people walking through your door.
- Engage your customers. Greet them as they walk through the door, have a smile on your face, and be useful but not overpowering.
- Utilize surveys. They don't have to be long, just effective. Create both transactional and relational types of surveys.
- Have comment cards. A simple way to get quick feedback, plus comment cards are a great way to document how your staff improves over time.
- Have an easy method of contact. Ensure you have a phone number or email on your website, or use the direct messaging feature through your Facebook page to ensure that if customers need to get a hold of you easily, they can.
4. A customer-centric culture is measured and the performance is communicated to the entire organization
There are a variety of metrics and tools to measure performance, specifically around customer service. Add any of these questions to a comment card, post them on Facebook or send them out in an email survey once a quarter.
More and more businesses across the country are using the Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure your customers' overall perception of your brand. You can calculate your NPS score through a quick, simple survey in response to the question: How likely is it that you would recommend [brand] to a friend or colleague?
An additional metric is the Customer Effort Score - a simple metric that measures your customer's experience by ranking your product or service on a seven-point scale ranging from "Very Difficult" to "Very Easy." Ultimately, this metric helps you see how effectively you are solving your customers' problems - because in order to gain loyal customers, it all comes down to easing their challenges and helping solve their problems.
Lastly, the Customer Satisfaction Score measures customer satisfaction by asking the question, "How satisfied were you with your experience?" With a simple rating scale answer, you can easily track how your business satisfies your customers over time.
5. A customer-centric culture recognizes and rewards great customer service
Always remember to recognize and thank your employees. Helping them feel valued, confident, and good at their job will likely make them happier while they're at work, and happier while talking to customers. A few examples include:
- Company Awards
- Social Media Shout-Outs
- Newsletter Spotlights
- All-Staff Emails
- Contests & Mini-Games
Remember, the customer is why any business exists. So, without a satisfied customer, you have no business to speak of. Don't feel like you have to start each of these steps today - think through a plan of how to roll out these strategies within the next few months and be on your way toward customer service success. It all starts with company culture!