Advances in technology have made it possible to support a customer-first culture, but relying solely on the tech to drive this initiative isn’t enough. Here’s how to combine technological solutions with broader organizational changes to build a customer-first culture.
Why a customer-first culture matters
Everyone has heard the old adage “The customer is always right,” and there’s a reason. To achieve high customer satisfaction and, in turn, repeat customers, you must place a strong emphasis on treating your customers well. In today’s lingo, it’s called Customer Experience (CX), and organizations throughout the world have transformed it from a simple adage to something that can be tracked, analyzed and objectively improved. Consider the following statistics:
- 90% of American consumers use customer service to make purchasing decisions.
- 84% of businesses that focus on improving their CX have better financial outcomes than their competition.
- Companies with the best CX see nearly six times more revenue than those with poor CX.
- Organizations with formal initiatives to make their CX better see an average of 20% higher employee engagement.
These numbers really solidify the importance of focusing on the customer experience. It’s difficult for brands to earn customer loyalty today due to the sheer number of options available to them. You can’t afford to have your customers experiencing poor customer service. Not only will their fragile loyalty be shattered nearly immediately, but you’ll also lose out on the positive word-of-mouth typically inspired by companies who get CX right. Customer loyalty and referrals are some of the best and most efficient ways of increasing revenue. After all, it costs an estimated five to 25 times more to get a new customer than to retain a current one.
How to build a customer-first culture
There’s no shortage of ways to encourage a customer-centric culture within your organization. Here are some recommendations to get you started down the right path:
Emphasize it in your corporate vision. All companies need a clear vision to which employees should aspire. This takes the form of a vision statement and core values. Ensure that you include your customer experience in these values so employees understand how important it is.
Don’t just make your values lip service, either. Implement them into your everyday policies and procedures. This reinforces them to everyone in the organization. It should become a part of your standard business practices, an organic extension of your values.
Invest in ongoing employee training that gives your employees a defined value proposition and strategy, not just onboarding training, that shows them how to provide a great customer experience. Again, this reinforcement goes a long way toward crystalizing the culture you want to promote.
Solicit feedback from customers. This is more of a technological solution, but it’s extremely helpful. Integrate email surveys or applications into your website to get the feedback. Determine how often you need to gather this data to stay on top of evolving customer expectations. If you have the means and it’s relevant to your product, consider organizing user exchange events for customers to meet and share their experiences.
Many unhappy customers won’t reach out to tell you they’re unhappy; they just won’t buy from your company again. Soliciting feedback has multiple benefits. First, you can gain a better understanding of what you’re doing right and find ways to cultivate it.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it highlights areas where you need to devote attention. You’ll get to see exactly where your CX is underwhelming and analyze whether there are significant trends. Then, you’ll know exactly where to invest for improvement.
A deep understanding of what your customers want gives you an edge over competitors who have only superficial customer knowledge.
Solicit feedback from employees. The other side of the feedback coin is nearly as important. For one, ground-level employees interact most with the customers and may have insights that management can’t glean from numbers or metrics. It’s important to listen to your customer-facing employees and consider what they have to say when formulating CX initiatives. This spurs innovation and can lead to new procedures that foster better interactions between employees and customers.
Furthermore, as we’ve seen above, engaged employees deliver better customer service. So, improving employee experience will lead to better customer experiences. Don’t get feedback only about how they think customer experience should be improved, but also about how their employee experience could be enhanced. You’ll discover that you can enact seemingly small changes to work policies that have a major impact on employee satisfaction. When your employees are happy, they’re more engaged, and they work harder and treat customers better. It’s an important link to not only recognize, but utilize to your organization’s advantage.
Change how you engage with customers. Many customer service interactions feel scripted and insincere. This doesn’t lead to organic engagements that feel like real social interactions. Your customers might as well be talking to a robot at that point. This will not lead to positive customer experiences. People want to feel like they’re heard and that a representative is listening actively. When their concerns are met with obviously canned responses, it can be perceived as offensive.
According to a recent survey, almost 70% of respondents feel that their call experience improves when call center reps do not have a script. If you’re committed to the customer experience, invest in training protocols that focus more on genuine interaction and emotional connection rather than flow charts of scripted responses. Try role-playing scenarios where trainees can get a feel for the common questions and problems they’ll be receiving. Then, coach employees in the proper responses and tone. Empower them to satisfy customers’ needs without resorting to talking with management.
This has a twofold effect: first, your employees feel empowered to make decisions. It boosts employee engagement, which in turn improves CX. At the same time, it shows the customer that your company is committed to customer satisfaction. It gets calls through faster and shows respect for the customers’ time, which customers appreciate. This feedback loop builds a growing synergy that should echo throughout the entire culture.
We hope you’ve gained a deeper understanding of how important a customer-first culture is in the modern business world. By utilizing our suggestions and undertaking a journey of continuous improvement, we know you’ll be set up for success.