There’s an old expression that most people have heard: “You can’t see the forest through the trees.” It means that it’s easy to focus so intently on the individual details that you lose sight of the overall picture of what you are doing.
It’s easy for this to happen to your employees. No doubt they are driven and focused on accomplishing the tasks that they are given. While this is essential, you need to make sure they never lose focus on their true purpose, which is to serve your customers.
An employee might produce a detailed and organized report for a client, but if it isn’t what the client wanted, they’ll be unsatisfied.
Encouraging your employees to keep an eye on the “forest,” which is the goal of serving your customers is essential for building a thriving, growing business. Here’s a few different ways you can set them up for success in the pursuit of customer centricity.
Listen to customer requests and feedback
Making sure your employees know how to actively listen to customers is an important first step. They need to ask follow up questions and get clarity from your customers so they know what to do, and how the customers want them to do it.
Customer demands can be very specific. Meeting those demands is what can set your company apart, so really drilling down and making sure all parties are on the same page is of primary importance.
When feedback is delivered, employees need to understand how to use that information to improve, rather than looking at it as just personal criticism. The best way for them to view it is as an opportunity to get to know customers better and develop a lasting relationship.
It all starts with active listening. Take some time to do role playing in various situations. Having junior employees sit in on calls and meetings where your more experienced staff are actively listening is a great opportunity to pass this skill on.
Selling a solution, not a product
There’s a big difference between simply selling a product, and selling a solution. Simply selling a product doesn’t add any value to your customers. Selling a solution is at the heart of customer centricity.
As an example, imagine a software company. This company produces payroll software. Your sales people make calls and meet with potential customers. If they simply state what the product does and what it costs, you are demonstrating that simply moving more quantity of your software is at the center of your business.
If, on the other hand, you ask questions and find out exactly what the customer needs are and explain how your software can benefit them, you are now taking your business to a higher level of customer centricity.
Customer support that goes above and beyond
While this sounds like a cliche, the concept is customer centric. In a more traditional view of customer service, a client would communicate a problem or issue. Your support personnel would then solve that problem, and that would be it.
When you encourage your employees to be customer centric, they’ll go beyond simply solving problems. They’ll look for customer support calls or emails as an opportunity to check in and see if there are additional products, or configurations that will benefit them.
They might find that the issue the customer is having is an indication that something needs to be set up differently, or another product might work better. The focus is on a continuing relationship. You are demonstrating the value of your company over others.
Getting all team members onboard
It makes sense that your customer support team would spend a great deal of time training on ways to focus on the customer. They should continue to do so. However, the idea of customer centricity needs to be brought to the forefront in all of your training materials and performance reviews.
Everyone needs to be focused on adding value for the customer in everything you do. This means encouraging innovative and out of the box thinking that might benefit your customers in new and previously unknown ways.
All team members need to understand that satisfied customers drive increased revenue and greater job satisfaction all around.
Taking the customers perspective
Getting into the customer mindset is a practice that needs to be modeled from the top down in all aspects of your research, development, sales, marketing and customer support. When you take their perspective you can craft better solutions, leading to a beneficial synergistic relationship between company and customer.
This is a subtle change that can take some time to master. It’s one thing to develop a product just hoping it will sell. It’s another to develop a product that solves a customer problem. This requires a deep understanding of their business needs and goals.
It’s not possible for all your employees to spend time becoming an expert in every customer your serve. It’s also not practical to make constant calls and inquiries into every nuance of your customers desires. That’s why teamwork is essential. Vital information about customer needs and feedback needs to be readily available and transmitted to the team members who need it.
As part of each employee’s workflow there should be some time to consider customer perspective, then solicit input from other employees who have developed useful insight.
Invest in Customer Relations Management (CRM) Software
The larger your company and more customers you have, the more information you’ll generate when it comes to orders, requests and feedback.
If you want your employees to be able to efficiently act in a way that’s customer centric, taking advantage of the flow of information stemming from calls and emails regarding feedback and requests, you need to have it organized and available.
Making an investment in CRM software can help you organize all this information, and make true customer centricity a reality. Instead of duplicitous phone calls and emails, when information is gathered it’s instantly available for employees to see and act on.
Top notch CRM is at the heart of some of the most customer centric companies such as FedEx, Target, and Starbucks.
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