Establish a Customer-First Strategy in 7 Steps

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    Home / Growth / Establish a Customer-First Strategy in 7 Steps

    It’s a well-known fact that customers are the most important element of any business. 

    You might be wondering why I am starting this blog post with such an obvious statement, but it’s because many businesses forget to prioritize their customer base from time to time and end up with big churn rates and a decrease in revenue.

    If you want to take your business to the next level, then it is time to establish a Customer-First Strategy.

    In this blog post, we will discuss 7 steps that you can take to establish a Customer-First Strategy for your business in order to generate more revenue and grow your company.

    Let’s first see what a customer-first strategy is.

    What is a customer-first strategy?

    Customer-first strategy is a cultural strategy that places customers at the core of everything a company does.

    With this strategy, any decision that a company makes is evaluated in terms of how it can affect the customers' experience, even if the decision seems to be only partially relevant to the customers.

    The customer-first strategy is a great way to keep your business focused on what really matters: the customers

    what is a customer first strategy

    A hyper-focus in decision-making can help expedite decisions and take rates of customer satisfaction from good to amazing!

    The best customer-first strategies prioritize the needs of both customers and employees. After all, it's hard for employees to put customers first if they themselves are undervalued. 

    And vice versa, employees can't possibly feel accomplished about their work if customers are unhappy.

    Let’s now take a look at 7 steps you can take to establish a customer-first strategy.

    7 Steps to Create a Full-Fledged Customer First Strategy

    7 steps to create a customer first strategy

    A customer-first strategy requires a lot of work, but in the long run, it pays off. 

    What does it take to put customers first?

    Take a look:

    1. Cultivate all-hands support

    Some businesses all over the world have built their internal culture solely around customer satisfaction monitoring. Only the CS reps should be responsible for how the customers feel, right? Not exactly.

    If a customer-first strategy is solely in the hands of client-facing employees, it will fail. The only way for your business to benefit is to cultivate a customer service mindset within all of your departments. 

    McDonald's, the world-famous fast food restaurant, is an excellent example of a business that promotes all-hand support. Its employees switch roles to help maximize productivity and gain a better understanding of customers.

    For example, a chief manager may act as a cashier to help the coworkers during rush hour and keep customers from leaving. Yes, everybody is fine with standing at the counter every now and then.

    Having different teams assisting the clients at some point, provides an excellent opportunity to observe how the customers feel and what they need. 

    Human Resources should ensure that all the employees are happy (everything from adequate office facilities to extra days off will work) because happy employees always lead to even happier customers.  Also, the product teams should collect the client feature requests and ensure that every detail is implemented.

    Teams at large software companies like Basecamp, Slack, and Zapier, for example, are dedicated to an all-hands approach. Every employee puts in a couple of hours a week to process the customer service tickets. This is beneficial not only to the customers but also to team collaboration.

    2. Shape your buyer persona

    You can't build a customer-first strategy unless you know who your customers are.

    Having a bird's-eye view of who you work with helps you to develop important policies and guidelines to help your company grow. 

    Take time to get to know your customers. Start with the following:

    • Make a general concept. Determine who your target audience is: who are they? Which industry do they work in? You should conduct some research in areas such as demographics, education, everyday life, product preferences, and so on.  You can create a specific strategy for fulfilling your clients' needs based on this information.
    • Track customer metrics. Only if you're well-versed in those metrics can you call yourself a customer-oriented business. These include demographics and buying habits, as well as churn rate and brand awareness.

    3. Think of innovative ideas to improve the customer experience.

    When you create a popular product or service, it's important to stay on top of your game and keep innovating. 

    Otherwise, your competitors will come up with new products/services that may take away customers from you.

    Innovation is key to a customer-first strategy. It shows that you are aware of your customers' needs and can anticipate how they will evolve over time. Continually looking for new ways to improve the customer experience demonstrates your commitment to the product and service quality, which will keep them loyal.

    4. Focus on personalized experiences

    Another way for a business to put its customers first is by personalization.

    That's because personalization shows how much you care and that you're willing to go the extra mile to exceed your customers’ expectations.

    What's more, this can have a positive effect on your bottom line by increasing customer satisfaction, which is often linked to a higher retention rate, as well as justifying the price of whatever you're selling (especially if you're targeting the Gen Z demographic).

    According to Oracle's recent report CX: One Size Doesn't Fit All, four out of ten respondents are willing to pay up to 20% extra for an exceptional customer experience.

    Furthermore, 58% of Gen Z consumers are more likely to purchase from a business that provides them with unique ways to experience its products or services.

    Also, 68% of the customers say that personalized experiences based on their tastes and preferences are very important.

    Given the statistics, it's difficult to ignore the importance of personalized experiences. One of the most effective ways to put the customers first is to tailor what they get to best suit their needs.

    5. Promote transparency

    The majority of people expect immediate answers to their questions. The longer they wait, the more impatient and angry they may get. Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, it is not always possible to respond to every customer’s complaint.

    A customer-first strategy, believe it or not, may also be counterproductive too.

    If you are unable to provide your clients with what they have requested, consider explaining why.

    Simply put, deal with the situation in a transparent manner. Customers appreciate being understood, so let them know what roadblocks you're currently facing and when their requests will be processed.

    As frightening as the concept of transparency can seem, it will be an essential component of your customer-first strategy.

    6. Adopt the 5 Whys technique

    The 5 Whys method was developed by Toyota Motor Corporation and has since gained a following in a variety of industries.

    The core of this method is questioning the 5 Whys to get to the root of every problem and prevent it.

    Here’s an example. 

    Problem: We’ve failed to send the newsletter for the latest updates on time. 

    1. Why did we fail to deliver the newsletter on time? — The updates arrived after the deadline.
    2. Why are updates not released on time? — Because the team was handling several tasks for too long.
    3. What was the reason for the team continuing to work on the other tasks?  — One of the newcomers wasn't familiar with all the details.
    4. What was the reason for the new employee's lack of familiarity with all of the procedures?  — Lack of proper training. 
    5. Why wasn’t the new employee trained properly? — Because the team leader believes that newcomers should learn as they work.

    Without answering these questions, it will be hard to develop a customer-first strategy.

    Besides, the team should do so together because it encourages the sharing of ideas and continuous improvement.

    Once you analyze each of the Whys, you can tweak processes when needed.

    7. Regularly survey the customers

    You can't know if your customer-first strategy is working until you get feedback from the customers.

    Customers can be surveyed on a regular basis (quarterly, bi-annually, or at a schedule of your choice) to help you gain useful insight into your target audience. Consider what they have to say and use it to guide your decisions.

    Employee surveys are also beneficial. After all, as we previously said, employee satisfaction and happiness are just as essential as consumer satisfaction and happiness. Get regular input from the team on how the plan is working for them and whether they have any suggestions for improvement.

    Bonus step

    If you want your employees to feel valued at work, it’s important that they get credit for the good things they do. 88% of people say that giving someone praise for a job well done is crucial to morale and motivation at the office.

    As an employer or team leader, incentivizing great performance and celebrating success are vital parts of creating a positive work environment where everyone can thrive best!

    A concept like this will spark interest in a customer-first strategy and result in excellent business results.

    Final Thoughts

    At the end of the day, it’s all about the customers. 

    The more time you spend putting them first with every action that involves them - from answering their questions about how a product works to offering follow-up service after they purchase it - the better customer retention rates, higher revenue, and happier employees you will get.

    You make it better for your customers, you make it better for yourself!

    P.S. You can also dig deep into what customer-centricity is and how to build a customer-centric culture for your business so that you internalize the whole approach.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How do you put the customer first?

    You put the customer first by taking care of their needs and desires. You should look out for their interest even at times it means less revenue for you in the short term. You should constantly collect feedback and try to make changes in accordance with your customers’ needs and desires.

    What is an example of customer-focused behavior?

    Let’s say you have two products, one is more expensive than the other but you know the cheaper one will be more useful to your customer, then, you should offer your customer the cheaper one.

    What are the main customer needs?

    The main customer needs are price, quality, variety, and convenience. Customers often look for these aspects when they make their decisions.

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