Just because you exist for your customers, doesn’t mean your business is always nailing what it means to make the customer the core of your business.
Estimated reading time: 6 minutes, 10 seconds
No matter what industry you’re in, the quality of customer care and service you provide is your biggest competitive differentiator - whether you’re B2C, or in the challenging B2B environment.
HubSpot’s development of the flywheel shows that the most important voice should be your customer’s, and as they explain, “No amount of time, energy, and resources poured into your marketing efforts can override the negative impact of poorly executed customer service.” Many businesses are guilty of not making the customer the core of their business and focusing too much on themselves in their messaging.
No business goes out with the goal to NOT be customer centric, but the truth is that there are many reasons why this is challenging for businesses to get right. The biggest one is because it can be a hard, time-consuming task to truly understand your customer and take the time you need to gather feedback from them.
Methods to understand your customer better
The most important one is to be empathic and to employ “active listening”It’s absolutely vital to understand the customer, their experiences, and their challenges - and be more empathic to them! The way I do this is through active listening: WHY does this issue matter to them? I explore the issue with questions and work to truly be in my customer’s shoes, so my products and the user experience I create are optimised for my customer, and not for me.
Listen to your salespeopleWhat do your salespeople struggle to sell, and why? They will have lots of insight into your customer’s pain points and any resistance they have to you and your brand.
Look at your procurement process - is it prohibiting good customer relations?If you’re the customer here - a relationship agnostic approach to finding service providers, like the tender process, can make it challenging for your suppliers to be truly empathic and in touch with you and your needs.
Keep an ear on the ground for abnormalitiesAre your customers dropping off faster than normal? Has your web traffic changed drastically? These are just some of the symptoms you should be aware of because they might indicate customer dissatisfaction. It’s important to keep your finger on the pulse and take note of any abnormalities that might indicate an issue you can address.
B2B customers are people tooSure, you’re working with a business, but you’re also working with the people in that business. Remember that when it comes to active listening.
Understanding where your business can refocus on the customer
Human relationships at scale: a challenge
As a business, you completely understand your vision and mission, but have not taken the time to understand who your customer really is. CEO of A Real Change International, Sandi Krakowski, says that having a conversation with your customers is important to find out who they are. She says “Use social media to stretch your ad dollars by engaging directly with your clients.” She explains that having a relationship with your customer and truly knowing who they are, not just what they want, will get you the best ROI. It can be seen through Facebook’s latest algorithm change for business pages, that authentic engagement is important to customers. However, the biggest challenge facing businesses today is how to have human relationships at scale? Automation can be deployed to help with the day to day service enquiries which satisfy the customers expectations, when they need specific help that can’t be automated the hand over to an empathetic human should be seamless.
Focus on your clients more than your competitors
It’s understandable that many businesses observe their top competitors for tips and tricks on how to make their own business better and keep up with the industry. Keeping up with your customer should be more important than keeping up with your competitor. A Harvard Business Review post explains that “customers’ expectations are also more liquid and no longer based on industry boundaries.” The importance of finding out who your ideal customer is, and keeping up with how they make their consumer decision should be your focus to stay ahead of your competitors.
Remember the importance of word of mouth marketing
It is understandable that in the world of digital marketing, your business has forgotten about the oldest form of marketing. Top web influencer and New York Times bestselling author, Neil Patel says “Word of mouth marketing is hands-down the most effective and reliable type of marketing.” If your customers do not feel that your business truly cares about them or know who they are, you may receive negative feedback, which could result in negative word mouth marketing which makes it more difficult and expensive to attract new clients.
Existing customers matter as much as new ones
Jerry Colletti, owner of Colletti-Fiss, LCC, says, “It’s always easier and less expensive to sell to your existing customers than to cultivate new ones.” In the world of sales and marketing, you are always trying to expand your customer base, but you forget the important of customer retention.
Invest in customer-focused training
A company that truly has their customer at the core of their business has spent time and resources for training their employees on how to find out who their ideal customer is and to build a lasting relationship. Management Issues explains that by embedding customer-think at every level of your business, the customer truly becomes the core of your business. Part of this strategy could be focusing less on PR, and more on creating truly helpful content for your customers (like this blog!)
Utilise your customer database
Many corporations collect large amounts of data on their customers through sales and other interactions, but many utilise that data to its full potential. Red Point Global explains that, “Truly customer-focused companies will take those insights and use them to make decisions that impact the customer at their moment of engagement.” Understanding and using your customer data could be the difference between making a sale or not.
Having a customer-centered business plan is the best thing you can do for your business. A happy customer will always guarantee a great ROI for any marketing strategy.
Metrics to help you understand if you have satisfied customers
- Lifetime value of a customer
A high value is good because it shows more that your customers have more value. Says Neil Patel, “Roughly defined, LTV is the projected revenue that a customer will generate during their lifetime.”
- Churn rate
A lower churn rate is better - high churn is your business constantly chasing its tail, able to attract customers, but not keep them.
- Total cost of acquisition
Lower is better. Understand where your deals come from - what is your customer’s referral path from lead to sale? Did they come from events, from your website, from word of mouth? Which one do customers convert on quickest, and why?
Lastly, always take the time to ask them - why did you choose us, and who else did they consider?