Many businesses boast about having a focus on customer satisfaction, but in many cases, it’s actually an afterthought. Businesses must adopt a strong customer-first strategy if they are going to truly meet customer needs and create amazing experiences. Let’s take a look at ways to build this strategy.
What Does “Customer First” Actually Mean?
In theory, “Customer First” is a simple concept. It’s a cultural strategy that businesses use to put their customers at the center of everything they do.
With this strategy, every decision your business makes is considered according to the way it will impact your customer experience, even the decisions that only seem to be tangentially related to your customers.
For instance, let’s imagine that a business is planning to start offering free fruit in the office. A business with a customer-first strategy might decide that free fruit will satisfy and nourish employees, who will then be able to serve their customers more effectively.
This approach to decision-making can make your business hyper-focused, and it can help you expedite your decision-making processes. If a customer-first strategy is effectively implemented, it can take your customer-satisfaction rates to new heights.
Of course, it’s important for you to consider the health and growth of your business. The best customer-first strategies reconcile business needs with customer needs, in order to make sure both parties are satisfied.
A well-implemented customer-first strategy definitely has the potential to keep your customers happy, and it can have a positive impact on your profits.
There is a great example of “customer first” and building long term customer relationships in the movie Miracle on 34th Street when Macy’s hires a man named Kris Kringle to be an in-store Santa and he does something wild! If Macy’s is out of stock on an item, he informs parents of other places where it’s available so they can be sure to get the presents their children want. As a result parents are wowed by Macy’s customer service and become loyal customers.
Putting Customers First: 7 Ways to Do It Right
As human beings, we can sense authenticity, and we can see right through hollow slogans like “the customer is always right.” Here’s a look at some of the ways you can deliver an authentic, successful customer-first strategy.
Shape your company DNA.
Every business needs to have inspiring vision and mission statements. These statements give you the power to rally your employees and move your team forward with a unified purpose.
One of the most effective ways to make your customer-first strategy an authentic success is to make sure it’s at the core of your company culture. The best way to accomplish this goal is to tie it into the vision and mission of your company.
Let’s take a look at Apple’s mission: “To bring the best user experience to its customers through its innovative hardware, software, and services.”
As you can see, the user is at the heart of Apple’s mission statement. Rather than simply having “customer satisfaction” be one of your brand values, go big. If you make sure your commitment to your customers is at the heart of your vision, you’ll never lose sight of your customer-first strategy.
Statistics also show that mission-driven workers are 54% more likely to stay at a company for five years.
Take care of your employees.
If you’re going to secure the satisfaction of your customers, you have to think about the welfare of your employees first.
You should realize that every employee in your business plays a critical role in executing your customer-first strategy. Your developers create the quality products your customers love. Your UX team sees everything from the perspective of your customer. Your marketing department creates an engaging experience.
It’s critical for every member of your team to be satisfied. Then they can play their parts in your customer-first strategy. If your team members are overworked or undervalued, you can’t expect them to focus on your customer-first strategy. When 85% of employees aren’t engaged in the workplace, there’s a serious risk that’s your workplace is unengaging.
Work alongside your HR department, and really listen to your employees. Then you can make sure they have everything they need to delight your customers.
Understand your customer.
If you decide to put your customers first and build your decisions around them, it’s only logical that you’ll be the first to understand who they are.
Therefore, you should use buyer personas to their full effect. This useful tool can help you better understand who your users are, what they need, and how you can help them reach their goals.
Buyer personas can also help you shape your communication strategy throughout the customer journey—from marketing to sales to customer success and beyond. This impact can give you the power to understand your customers and make the right decision at every turn.
Foster human customer service and customer success departments.
After your prospect becomes a customer, he or she will have the majority of his or her contact with your customer service and customer success departments. Therefore, it’s important for you to be able to deliver personalized contact with a human touch.
Your customer-facing teams need to be the driving force behind your customer-first strategy. They should offer friendly support and upsell new items in an authentic way that will drive value to your customers.
American Express found that 90% of Americans use customer service as the deciding factor about whether they will do business with a company. There’s clearly a voracious appetite for authentic customer service. So make sure your customer-facing teams embody your customer-first approach.
Improve transparency within your organization.
If you adopt a customer-first approach, every member of your team needs to be engaged and understand how their work impacts the customer and their experience.
Therefore, you should try to boost transparency in your organization. Many customer-centric businesses decide to hold regular company-wide meetings, where customer support and customer success teams can relay feedback.
Then these teams can report back from the front lines, and everyone in the business will see how their work is felt. This boost to transparency will help make your employees more engaged. Rather than firing off their tasks into a black hole, they can understand the real-world impact they can have in the lives of your customers.
Process customer feedback.
Your customer feedback is invaluable. It almost goes without saying that a business with a customer-first strategy will want to develop a robust system to help process and implement customer feedback.
To collect valuable customer feedback, you’ll want to make the most of all the communication channels (live chat, hotline, Facebook, review platforms, …) out there. That feedback should then be collated and interpreted, in order to shape your priorities and decisions.
If you can demonstrate to your customers that you appreciate their feedback, you can really impress them. Statistics show that 86% of customers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better experience.
Find and train your team members.
To successfully execute your customer-first strategy successfully, you need the right team members. In other words, you should hire people who have the appropriate disposition and the willingness to buy into your customer-first strategy.
Finding the best team members is just one part of the battle. Once you hire them, you make the appropriate investment in every employee you have.
The right training will help your employees perform to the best of their abilities, and play their parts in delighting your customers. Statistics also show that companies who invest in employee training have an average of a 24% higher profit margin.
How to Build a Customer-First Strategy
Now that we have a better understanding of the best practice, let’s dig deeper into how you can put together a customer-first strategy.
1) Identify and avoid customer-first pitfalls.
Before you start adjusting your strategy, you should take the time to identify the key risks that a customer-first strategy might pose. This tactic can help you avoid the common pitfalls that come with a customer-first strategy.
Here’s a look at some of the key risks that businesses face if they fail to properly implement their customer-first strategy.
Having the tendency to lose focus
As human beings, our needs and wants can be very fickle. If you overcompensate the whims of your customers, you might find that your business is pulled backward and forwards in different directions.
You should make sure that you have a customer-first strategy that helps you surface appropriate, consistent customer needs. If not, you run the risk of losing focus and harming your business.
Knowing which feedback to follow
Let’s imagine a scenario in which you ask two of your customers about their priorities when they’re working with you. One of them says “price,” while the other says “features.” Which one should take priority?
You must develop a method for processing and categorizing the feedback you receive. In other words, you can find the correct course of action in the confusing, bewildering moments when your customer feedback seems to be pulling you in different directions.
Neglecting business health
It’s important for you to understand that a customer-first strategy doesn’t mean that you sacrifice the health of your business for the good of your customer. In terms of price and the level of service that you can offer, you need to have your red lines in place. In other words, what is your business’ point of no return? if you don’t clearly define these boundaries, you could harm your business.
You should also remain firm and clear about red lines. This tactic will help you avoid making extravagant promises to your customers that you can’t keep.
2) Focus on the right metrics.
If you’re going to change your strategy, it’s critical for you to know what success looks like. This strategy will help you set accurate goals and determine whether the change has been successful, in terms of approach.
In order to measure your success, you’ll want to pay attention to a range of metrics. Here’s a look at the key metrics you should examine…
Losing a customer can be very costly. The cost of acquiring a replacement customer is very high, and it can raise costs and cut into your profits.
Therefore, you should use your customer-first strategy to reduce your churn rate. Statistics show that an average company will lose around 10% of its customers each year.
You should pay close attention to your churn rate, in order to see whether your customer first approach helps reduce it. If it does, you could consider your strategy a success.
Net promoter score
One of the clearest, most effective ways to measure your customer satisfaction is to focus on your Net Promoter Score (NPS).
You can uncover this simple metric by asking your customers one very simple question: How likely are they to recommend you to a friend or colleague? The NPS is a very attractive metric because it’s easy to track over time, and your customer-first strategy should have a direct impact on your score.
NPS divides respondents into three key groups, according to the score they give you. You want as many of your customers as possible to be in the top bracket: active promoters who will stick with your business.
3) Shape your mission.
As we touched on earlier, you’ll want to shape your company mission to reflect your customer-first strategy.
This big move shows that you’re dedicated to your new approach and that your business fundamentally exists to serve your customers and help them achieve their goals. If you adjust your company mission, you should make sure that all of your team members are aware of the change.
Lots of companies plan grand PR initiatives when they launch their new missions. This situation could be an opportunity for you to reshape your strategy and let your customers know about a renewed commitment to their success.
4) Use the right tools.
If you’re going to deliver on your customer-first strategy, you have to make sure that your business uses the best tools in the business.
A wide range of tools can give you the best chance of delighting your customers. For instance, you’ll want to use a world-class CRM system, as well as a range of other supplementary tools for relationship management.
Messagely is a modern all-in-one solution for live chat, targeted messaging, and team inboxes. Our tool helps businesses all over the world deliver unforgettable customer support and execute their customer-first strategy. You can learn more about us by starting your 14-day free trial today.
5) Celebrate success.
A customer-first approach can be quite demanding for your employees. It means that they’ll have to be at the top of their game as consistently as possible, so you can find new ways to amaze your customers.
It’s important for you to incentivize great performances and celebrate successes. You should share your goals and make the success of your business a team sport. This transparency can help your employees engage with your customer-first strategy.
Statistics show that 88% of employees believe it’s important for employers to reward employees for great work. So make sure to delight both your employees and your customers.
6) Draw passion from your approach.
You might find that your customer-first strategy can motivate your employees and help you attract standout performers. Some people are motivated by a desire to buy into a greater vision and drive positive change to the lives of their customers.
To make your customer-first strategy a roaring success, be sure to use it as a source of passion and motivation for your entire team, including yourself. After all, it’s a noble way to approach business that you should all feel proud.
We hope this closer look at ways to make a customer-first strategy has been useful for you. As more and more businesses adopt this approach, it’s going to become the standard. So don’t get left behind. To start acquiring, engaging, and supporting your customers like never before, unlock your 14-day free trial with Messagely today.