You own one of two sports stores in the city. How do you make sure your customers don’t leave and spend their money at the other sports store, the one that has multiple putting greens inside and even a basketball court?
The customer is the reason you have a business. Customer loyalty, the level of positive emotion that a customer feels towards a company, is how you get customers stay with you. A helpful way to increase customer loyalty is to get your company customer-focused.
How do you do this?
Building a Customer-Focused Organization
Recognize the need to change
First, recognize you need to change.
As a leader — or potential leader — in your company, you may find it difficult to admit that your vision and strategy just isn’t working. But you have to, before it’s too late.
In Resurgence: The Four Stages of Market-Focused Reinvention, Gregory Carpenter, John Sherry and Gary Gebhardt studied how struggling corporations reinvented themselves with a market focus as opposed to a focus on leadership or product innovation.
Motorola was one of the companies featured in the book. In almost every product category made by the company, Motorola had 80 percent of the market share. Since 1928, the year Motorola was founded, Motorola developed relationships with NASA and the military. The company’s technological innovations caused them to put engineering first — before anything else.
Motorola’s troubles began in the 1990s. It was losing market share in mobile devices to other manufacturers of mobile.
At first, the company ignored the problem. Why should Motorola think of it as an issue? It invented mobile.
In 1998, Motorola fell behind Nokia to No. 2 in its market.
This was when the company finally recognized the need to change its vision, after decades of being the leader in the mobile communications industry.
“To recognize the need for change is both the first stage of change, and the first step in the change process,” the authors write.
Once you have admitted to yourself that there’s a problem, make sure all departments within your organization are focused on the customer and that leaders understand what the customer wants.
In Motorola’s case, the company had to step away from their individualistic culture and open themselves to collaboration and communication.
Leaders at all levels of the company should make sure that the decisions being made are customer-focused.
Your customers have anxieties, worries, fears, needs, expectations. They want to make sure they are getting something good and that their needs are being met.
In a way, we have reached a time when businesses can take more risks than ever. We can provide services and products people have never seen or imagined before. And we can adjust, evolve, and pivot based on the availability of customer feedback: one of the most valuable sources of information and insight a business can have.
Brian Solis for Forbes, writes, “As executives, we don’t usually see things as they are. Instead, we see them as we are. We use on our own life experiences to make decisions for our consumers. Yet, we are not our customers, and in order to create experiences that are truly catered to their needs we need to cultivate empathy with them. In other words, we need to see the world through our consumers’ eyes.”
Tell stories about your customers
Humans like narratives. Why should your employees be engaged? Why should they care about your product?
Keenan Cummings, design lead/design manager at Airbnb, explained that telling stories is how you can create organizational change.
“Storytelling makes products, teams and companies,” he said. “It’s telling your customers why they should care, your team why they should invest their best selves into their work, and yourself where all this effort is taking you.”
If a customer posted a detailed review on Yelp or TripAdvisor, or left positive or negative feedback through one of your customer surveys, share the comments to your team so they gain a better understanding of the customer experience.
You can also share testimonials and your best customer reviews on your website as well as on your social media profiles, allowing your customers to tell their own unique stories about your brand.
By recognizing the need for change, by fostering an organizational culture that values (first and foremost) customer success, and by leveraging the power of storytelling to drive engagement with customers, you can transform your company into one that’s customer-focused.