The Importance of a Customer-Focused Culture

Your company’s success relies on your customers. Without them, you wouldn’t have sales or revenue — or, really, a business at all. This means that in order to succeed, you need to make them a priority. And that requires going beyond standard customer service.

The best approach for achieving excellent customer satisfaction levels (along with your business goals) is to develop a customer-focused culture.

What is a Customer-focused Culture?

The concept itself is fairly straightforward. Developing a customer-focused culture simply means making customer experience, or CX, a core part of your company’s goals and values.

As Kelly Uhlrich, Vice President and General Manager of CX company Humach, explains, “the proper focus and investment of time and budget requires a more strategic approach. It’s not a marketing problem or a technology initiative.”

So to take a truly customer-focused approach, you need to do more than hire a skilled customer support team. Instead, you need to integrate customer care into your company culture as a whole. And you need to make it very clear.

Some executives make the mistake of believing that their commitment to the customer’s experience is a sort of unspoken value. And while it might be, it’s important to take the time to put it into words.

Clearly communicating your values can help renew your team’s focus and make each employee more confident in what your company stands for.

How a Customer Focus Can Help Your Business Succeed

A customer-focused approach can do more for your business than boost your customer satisfaction levels.

It’s Essential for Customer Retention

Customer retention is essential for building residual revenue. It’s also much more cost-effective than solely focusing on acquisition, as it’s 6-7x more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing one.

And providing excellent service is absolutely necessary for establishing high retention rates. In fact, 24% of respondents in a MyCustomer survey said they’d switch to a different brand after just one negative experience.

But when you develop a customer-focused culture, you can be confident that no matter which employee a customer interacts with, they’ll be treated as a priority.

Customer-centric Companies are More Profitable

Considering the impact service can have on retention, it should come as no surprise that companies that make their customers a priority are more profitable. In fact, research from Deloitte and Touche found that companies with a customer-centric focus are 60% more profitable.

This directly ties to the fact that the happier a customer is with a brand, the more they tend to purchase. In one study, Xerox found that customers who rated them a 6/6 were six times more likely to buy more products than those who rated the brand with a 5.

In this case, just one extra point on their rating scale led to a noticeable difference in purchasing habits — illustrating that even a little extra effort could be all it takes to boost your revenue.

Finally, it’s worth noting that a customer focus can help with the lead nurturing process.

When you take the time to answer prospective customers’ questions and provide them with the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions, you increase the chances that they’ll convert.

How to Build a Customer-focused Culture

Focusing on your customers may sound like a fairly straightforward process. But if you’re not sure where to get started, the following 4 steps will give you a clear path towards creating the kind of work culture you want.

1. Collect Feedback Regularly

The first step in developing a customer-focused culture is listening to what your customers have to say. There are many ways to do this. For customer-facing employees, the most straightforward approach is simply to ask for feedback during regular interactions. And this doesn’t need to involve a set of scripted questions.

Simply asking customers whether they’re satisfied with your company, products, and services is an easy way to gauge overall sentiment. It can also be a helpful way to collect suggestions and constructive feedback. Encourage your customer support team to document these suggestions, and make it a priority to review them on a regular basis.

You can also take things a step farther (and reach users that don’t contact you for help) by sending customer surveys.

Again, these don’t need to be complicated. Tools like Typeform make it easy to create surveys that can give you valuable insight about your customers.

From there, you can use CSAT surveys to gauge how satisfied your customers are with specific interactions and other aspects of your business. If you’re in the beginning stages of developing a customer-focused approach, this might sound like a lot.

But as your team gets more comfortable asking for and reviewing customer feedback, it will become a routine — and indispensable — part of your operations.  

2. Make Customer Service Metrics Part of Your company goals

You likely already have company-wide goals that all of your employees are aware of and work toward accomplishing. For many businesses, these revolve around revenue and growth. But customer service-oriented metrics should also be part of your core goals.

One of the most popular of these is Net Promoter Score or NPS. This metric is an index ranging from -100 to 100 and indicates the overall sentiment toward your brand. And while it shouldn’t be the only metric you use to measure customer satisfaction, its simplicity makes it ideal for a company-wide goal.

Aiming to hit a specific score by the end of the year, for example, can give your team a concrete reason to always put the customer first.

3. Integrate it into Your Company Culture

When many people think of “customer care,” they only think of a company’s customer support team. But to create a customer-focused culture, it can’t just be a priority for customer-facing employees.

Instead, you need to incorporate this focus into your company’s core values. For example, take a look at Southwest’s mission statement.

Southwest Airlines customer service

The entire thing is about customer service.

And considering that Southwest is now the highest-ranking North American airline in terms of customer satisfaction, this approach seems to be working for the brand.

4. Make Every Employee a Customer Champion

One of the best ways to create a truly customer-centric culture is to encourage every employee, regardless of their team or job function, to be a customer champion.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, a customer champion is someone who “represents customers and their experience in discussions within the company. They’re focused on putting the customer’s needs first and is vested in improving the customer experience at every phase.”

For many businesses, encouraging non-customer-facing employees to focus on customers would represent a significant shift — but it’s a shift that can produce excellent results. For example, this was the premise behind PayPal’s “Be the Customer” initiative.

Over the course of 8 months, the company took many steps to renew their team’s customer focus. This included letting non-customer-service employees listen to customer calls to give them more insight on this side of the business, as well as encouraging employees in all departments to test new PayPal products themselves.

And it worked.

As a result of this initiative, PayPal’s revenue grew 19% from Q1 to Q2, and their Net Promoter Score reached a new high.

So if you’re on the fence about changing your company’s work culture, a similar approach could give you a chance to test the impact of an increased customer focus — and you just might be surprised by the results.

  • As much as many entrepreneurs would love to, you cannot be only half on board with this approach to customer service because when you do wholeheartedly devote to providing the best customer experience in the world, there is neither place nor time for other priorities but this one. Takes a lot of commitment to keep it going, but in the long run placing the customer on the importance pedestal is the most sure-fire investment a company can make!