Running a business can be overwhelming, so much so, that business owners often lose sight of what really matters; their customers. Many businesses become operations-focused, rather than customer-focused by default, due to becoming overwhelmed with budgets, margins, and other operational processes in their business. Below we explore how and why businesses should be customer-focused.
Customer-focused vs. operations-focused
In a customer-focused business, it is entirely focused on fulfilling the needs and requirements of its customers. For example, a customer-focused business will take risks to innovate their services and performance to try to exceed their customers’ needs and expectations. Any decisions made by a customer-focused company, such as hiring and training new employees, will be to ensure they can deliver the best customer service possible.
Alternatively, as the name suggests, operations-focused companies focus on operations at the core of their business. For example, all decisions made by an operations-focused company will be based on the most efficient way to manufacture, budget, and distribute goods and services. For example, employees in an operations-focused business will have limited decisions, as all decisions must improve the efficiency and profitability of a business.
How to be a customer-focused business
Being a customer-focused business does not mean operating inefficiently, rather the needs of a customer should be integrated into all elements of the business. This should help to simplify business processes and decisions.
A customer-focused business maintains a consistently high level of customer service and sees customer service as an essential element of a functioning business.
For example, in a customer-focused business, every employee should see themselves as a representative and a sales rep for their company. Customer service should, therefore, be seen as company philosophy and not just another department.
A customer-focused business will help to train and develop their employees outside of their department. For example, they will help delivery drivers to practice their relationship building and customer service skills. This is because a company should recognize that happy, fulfilled employees are more likely to provide a better service to customers and the skills they learn will be transferable and repeatable. Training an employee outside of their specific role, therefore, has more benefits for the company as a whole.
For customer-focused process improvement, businesses should not only seek compliance with the latest industry rules and regulations, but they must also ensure these rules are at the heart of all their operations to ensure their customers and employees are safe and protected. For example, customers’ data must be stored and used legally and safely. A company must be completely transparent with their customers if they wish to maintain a customer-focused approach to ensure the business and its customers can build a mutually beneficial trusting relationship.
Above all, a customer-focused business creates and executes all business processes with the customer in mind. To ensure your customer-focused business operates successfully, all employees within a business must have a customer-focused mindset and share the same company ethos and beliefs.
By Ellis Bledsoe, Principal Owner ECB Solutions, LLC