The e-commerce boom and constantly growing customer expectations have once again proved the importance of online customer experience management and the right mindset in business. Focusing mostly on product sales is no longer an option. What actually does the trick in today’s business environment is putting a customer first and sincerely caring about serving their needs.
84% of surveyed consumers admit that customer service plays one of the leading roles in their purchase decisions. This figure makes it clear that the experience a customer has with a brand is what distinguishes a specific company from its competitors, making customer focus more important than ever before.
It means that if you were once allowed to fail, now those errors might not be so well received and even cause your business some serious damage in the future. Hence in this article, we will take a deeper look at the customer focus definition and go through some tips and tricks that can help you stay on top of the current e-commerce trends.
What is customer focus?
Customer focus, or client focus, is a company culture that pays great attention to the needs and opinions of customers.
Some of the customer focus examples include quality customer support, developing the best solutions for clients rather than the best products in general, using data to better understand customer behavior, asking for feedback and taking it seriously to improve, focusing on their satisfaction, etc.
Such companies ensure that a customer is always at the center of the decision-making process.
That’s right – although it might be mostly associated with customer service and the specific skills an agent possesses, customer-first approach impacts all aspects of the business, from hiring the right employees and creating a pleasant work environment to flawless customer experience.
What are the benefits of customer-focused company culture?
- Customer loyalty. The main purpose of the customer-focused approach is to offer the best possible solutions and tailor the services to fulfill specific customer’s needs, resulting in increased customer satisfaction. Satisfied customers tend to come back and stay loyal, which can greatly benefit businesses in the long-term.
- Sales boost. More often than not, customers might need help while considering their options. There’s probably no need to say that nudging them in the right direction and providing reliable support when they need it the most are likely to bring you more profit.
- Competitive advantage. With the competition this fierce, putting customer first actually becomes a differentiating factor in e-commerce and can help companies stay at the forefront of this battle.
- Motivated employees. Since people who work with customers are that one direct touchpoint with an “outside world,” the way they feel about the company is crucial, too. A team that is happy about its work environment and the values that the business communicates is likely to do a much better job on a daily basis.
5 ways to improve your company’s customer focus
1. Ask for feedback and follow it to improve
Keeping an eye on different metrics definitely helps to get a clearer image of how your customers behave in your store. Yet is there really a better way to understand how they really feel about your brand than asking them directly?
Surveys are a great way to gather this valuable information and turn it into a better experience for your store visitors. Metrics are not always able to show specific customer pain points, and there can still be things that need your attention even though you’re experiencing a steady growth in your sales numbers.
No matter if the feedback you get is a positive or negative one (which can be one of the most important sources of learning), make sure to respond and let your customers know that you hear them. This way, it will be more likely that they’ll find it beneficial to talk it out next time you need it.
2. Promote a customer-focused approach across the company
Although it might seem that the whole responsibility for making customers happy falls on the customer support team, that's not the best possible approach e-commerce or any other company can take.
As Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, once said, “Customer service should not be a department. It should be the entire company.”
This means that every employee, no matter their position, or any possible decision made in the company, should be customer-focused, even if it seems that those two don't really have a direct connection. Most often than not, they do.
For instance, rewarding the team once in a while would probably spark the feeling of being recognized for their efforts. Hence, employees are more likely to do their best at work, which would eventually reflect in the results.
3. Take advantage of customer service tools
If you’ve been using some kind of customer service software, you definitely know the difference it can make when managing customer inquiries. It can also shift the customer support team's focus from just serving a customer to actually helping them solve their problems since the process of prioritizing tasks and answering requests appears to be better organized.
Besides, such tools, let’s take a help desk system, for example, can make it easier to meet other objectives that fall under the client focus definition. It becomes less complicated to manage several communication channels and allow customers to contact a specific business in the way they prefer, personalize the conversations, boost customer engagement, not to mention getting a more comprehensive image of each inquiry, thus improving the quality of customer support. It all results in a better customer experience which is one of the things that we seek with a customer-focused approach.
4. Use the right metrics to offer the right solutions
Instead of pushing sales to new customers, try focusing on retaining the existing ones who actually tend to spend around 67% more than new clients. Even if you’re happy about your sales numbers, which, of course, is important, there’s no guarantee that those customers will come back, and that is what also matters if you want to build a customer-focused company.
Here are a few metrics that can help follow your progress and take actions, if anything is not going according to your plan:
- Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) – used to evaluate customer support experience, usually after the specific issue is resolved.
- Customer lifetime value (CLV) – refers to the total amount of money a customer is expected to spend with a specific brand.
- Net promoter score (NPS) – measures customer loyalty.
- Customer retention rate (CRR) – it identified the percentage of customers that the company has retained over a specific period of time.
- Customer churn rate – the opposite for CRR, customer churn represents the number of customers lost.
5. Build a strong front-line team
Although we’ve already established that the “burden” of maintaining customer focus should not fall on any specific team, it’s still important to give that extra pat on the shoulder to those in the front lines of your business – and those are indeed customer support agents.
Motivating the people who directly interact with your store visitors can lead to business growth since great customer service is now more important than it ever was. It’s actually what differs brands from each other and wins the hearts of today’s consumers.
How to do this fully depends on every individual team. There are no certain rules to follow, yet you can always draw inspiration from others. Investing in training, nurturing career growth, creating incentives, sharing some positive customer feedback for inspiration, or showing empathy might be a good way of acknowledging their importance, thus boosting their motivation and productivity.
It’s not always easy to maintain customer focus and sometimes it also requires a lot of additional efforts. This whole approach covers all layers of the company and suggests that every single employee would carry the same mindset.
Focusing on fulfilling the specific needs of customers and leaving them satisfied as a result can greatly benefit your bottom line and keep your business ahead of the competition. And when it’s this high, improving customer focus should become one of the top priorities for any e-commerce business.