The customer is number one. That sounds obvious when you say it, but many companies fail to implement policies and strategies that put the customer first. Oftentimes, the product comes first before the customers who want to buy your product. However, in our increasingly personalized and customizable world, customers expect more than ever to come before the product. If you want your business to stay relevant, then your focus needs to shift from product to customer.
Raymond Kroc, who spent most of his professional career working with McDonald’s, said “If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.” Source
Putting the customer first means that you have a clear purpose that centers on the needs of your customers and that you do everything you can to fulfill that purpose.
The big ideal
As you are shifting your focus from being product-centric to customer-centric, you might ask yourself, Why do we (your company) exist? What is our purpose? If your first thought is, we exist to make this product, then think a little deeper. Why do people buy your product? Why was your product created? The answer: to help customers do/feel something.
When finding your purpose, it can be useful to look at this brand identity venn diagram which shows a need that society has (cultural tension) on one side and on the other your “brand’s best self,” this refers to your product or service. There in the middle is your purpose, where your company fulfills a need in society. This is the big ideal, where your product meets the needs of your customers.
By focusing more on this big ideal and the greater picture of your purpose, you can better focus your marketing strategies onto your customers and their needs. A great example of a customer-centric brand is Apple, here is a statement from them:
“Apple’s 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.”
While this statement talks about the products, it’s main focus is on Apple’s efforts to improving the world around them for their customers. Look at the needs that your product fills and create a clear purpose for your company that is customer-centric. This purpose should be written down somewhere and available for all your employees and customers.
Customer trust and loyalty
Customers will notice when you change focus to your customers instead of the product. If you show that you care about their needs and concerns, then they will trust your company and be more loyal to your brand. Isn’t customer trust and loyalty something we all want?
A great way to earn your customers’ trust and to create a customer-oriented culture is by listening to the feedback you receive from your customers and immediately acting on it. This shows your customers that you are listening to what they are saying and that you are willing to change to meet their needs.
Be clear about your brand’s purpose and how important the customer is to your brand and you will see increased trust and loyalty. If customers feel that they are important to you, you will become more important to them.