Hints & Tips Blog

How ‘customer-centric’ is your business?

Especially in the present circumstances, all businesses stand or fall on their ability to attract, satisfy and retain customers.

Yet sometimes in the push for growth, the pursuit of sales, the expansion of teams and processes, we can lose sight of what really matters to customers once we have them.

So, we have put together a few questions to ask yourself to determine if the customer is king in your business?

Is customer service everyone’s business?
Not just the team dedicated to this, but everyone in the business. From your accounts team, internal operations, sales team – do they all see what they do through a customer’s eyes?

Do the sales team consider what will really work best for the customer, not deliver the most commission for them?

Do they think about the company’s ability to deliver what they’ve sold and what the impact might be on the company’s resources and delivery or operations teams?

Does the accounts function build a relationship with customer contacts and so if problems with payment arise there are good channels of communication already in place and ‘emotional capital’ built up to smooth the way?

Do you make room for ‘the human touch’
Most of us at some point have probably experienced the frustration of searching in vain for a number to call or the inability to speak to a human after what seems like hours pressing 1 for this, 2 for that and ending up being directed to a website where “all your queries will be answered” by an automated voice.

Now more than ever, digital and business automation is increasing, and in many areas is a great aid to efficiency and service. But do you make sure your customers have a touchpoint they can call when things go wrong or the unexpected happens? A ‘real person’ to speak to can make all the difference in helping solve problems and relieve customer frustration more quickly.

Do you see failures as opportunities?
Very few businesses never make mistakes. Rapid growth, supply chain issues, staff shortages can all lead to us not covering ourselves in glory sometimes.

But the companies I buy from that I’m most loyal to are not the ones who have never taken a misstep, but the ones who have gone above and beyond to rectify it when they have. It makes you feel that they care and that it’s a two-way street, it’s unusual and satisfying – and crucially it anchors them in your memory.

From your own business’s perspective, do you have agreed strategies for when things go wrong? Things the team knows you are happy to offer so they can do it quickly and seamlessly and turn a negative start into a positive experience?

Is the power to deliver at the front line?
Do you have confidence in your people at the ‘sharp end’? Are you happy for them to make decisions quickly to resolve problems without reverting to you before taking action?

If not, then ask yourself why? Are they lacking in experience or knowledge? If you know what’s holding you back from giving them more autonomy, you’re halfway to solving it.

Revisiting your training, reassessing the type of people you hire and the advice and tools you have given them can all help build your confidence that they will make the right call for customers and the company and move things along quickly themselves. Often, it’s delays in rectifying things that can add to the customer’s frustration, so shortening the process by empowering the people at the front line can really help.

Do you measure the right things to assess customer care?
Most good businesses will have KPIs relating to customer service. Speed of order fulfilment, quality of the product, after-sales care, complaint resolution to name a few.

But do you understand and measure the things that really matter to your customer beyond this?

How responsive are your team to unusual requests or ‘emergencies’?

Do you ask how customers prefer to be communicated with?

Do you reward ‘customer-centric behaviour’ in your team?

By thinking about (and asking) what makes the biggest difference to your customers you can introduce and monitor the impact this has. As we gradually move out of lockdown, retaining customers for all businesses will be vital, if this message resonates with you, get in touch with us to see if we can help you.

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