Customer Focus: Have we lost focus?

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“70% Companies say that it’s cheaper to keep a client than to get a new one!”

 

As organizations grow, customer focus becomes important. Amidst sales targets, budgets, recruitment, outsourcing and profits, we sometimes lose focus on the very reason for being in the business  – our hard-earned customers. Any business exists only because of its customers. Losing existing customers means losing business, which translates to a slow and steady decline, leading towards closure.

Foundation of Customer Focus

In my experience, Customer Focus is founded on 4 main principles:

1. Proactiveness
2. Transparency
3. Ensuring First Time Right (FTR) – zero defects when dealing with customer processes
4. Ensuring the quickest Turnaround Time for customer grievances and requests

For these principles to take effect, they need to bucketed into certain activities which directly or indirectly affect employees. It is employees who ultimately drive customer focus within an organization.

Elements to a Smart Customer Focus Strategy

Effective Customer Focus can only be achieved only if your employees are willing to take part in this cultural shift.

Focus can be achieved with a 3-pronged strategy:

1. Employee EMPOWERMENT
2. Employee REWARDS
3. Employee INSPIRATION

EMPOWERMENT
For good customer service, employees need to be given an adequate amount of authority to to take decisions which impact customer well-being and and ultimately affecting customer loyalty. As an example, having an Empowerment Budget with employees at a certain level up to a fixed amount, allows for many smaller flares to be put out before they are escalated. For instance, if John, a Branch Manager has an empowerment budget to send out a cake and flowers on a client’s birthday, it may translate to higher engagement, loyalty and more business to the Bank.

REWARDS
Rewarding employees for actions which demonstrate customer focus may sound like classical conditioning but are most effective. Organizations must institute powerful reward and recognition programs like:

1. Fairplay Awards: Given to the best business vertical for least customer complaints, fewest escalations, maximum testimonials and quickest turnaround times.
2. Individual Customer Focus Awards: For those employees who have gone the extra mile and displayed exemplary customer focus. This could be a 6 month or an annual reward.
3. Customer First Contest: Have a contest where employees submit ideas to improve customer focus. Winners could be rewarded for the best ideas.

INSPIRATION
It is said that doing the same things brings the same results. Employees may not have been exposed to good customer service or may be unaware that such a thing exists. To solve this, one may look at:

1. Best Practice Case Studies: Every month, an example of customer focus from a different industry is circulated amongst employees
2. Employee Testimonials: Whenever an employee has done something out of the way for a customer, his story could be published on the organization’s internal website. There is a rub off effect on other employees when they see and hear about what their colleagues have done.
3. Customer Speak: If a customer is satisfied with an employee’s actions, record it on your phone. Pass the clip on to Marketing who would put it on the Company’s internal website for all employees to know.

How Marketing plays a key role

Customer Focus and Marketing go hand-in-hand. In this case, Marketing is completely targeted at internal stakeholders (Senior Management, Support Functions and Frontline Employees). Various marketing activities include:

1. Organizing Webinars by the CEO and HR speaking about how Customer Focus is core to the organization
2. Emailers and DMs to employees speaking about guiding principles and the Empower, Reward and Inspire Strategy
3. Engagement Activations amongst employees to show examples of good Customer Focus
4. Posters, Banners, Standees and other collateral in the Company to announce the launch of such an initiative
5. Screensaver, Wallpapers, Customer Focus Signature Band on each employees laptop
6. A separate section on the Company Intranet where employee testimonials can be put up
7. Setting up and communication of the availability of an Empowerment Budget
8. Pushing examples of great customer service or testimonials straight in to a Company App which may already exist for employees

Customer Focus can never go out of fashion. It’s why your organization exists in the first place. Stepping into your customers shoes,  listening, understanding and acting on customer needs is the only way for a business to survive and thrive in the long run.

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