Seven ways to keep customers front and centre

Customers today have infinite choices. Any product or service they could ever desire is just within their reach, usually only a mouse-click away.

In our global economy, hundreds of competitors may rise and fall practically overnight. What’s more, today’s customer is smart, savvy, and well-educated. With so many brands and organizations waiting to serve, she could choose any company. You have to give her a good reason to choose yours.

The key to keeping your business running in high gear is to focus all of your attention and efforts on – you guessed it – the consumer, the client, the customer.

The customer is the sole reason organizations of any kind exist. The moment an organization stops focusing on the customer, it will start to fall apart. A successful organization always puts the customer’s best interest first.

Here are seven ways you can keep your customer front and centre.

— Play “Follow the leader:” Good leadership drives customer focus. An organization’s leaders set the tone for everything, good or bad, that takes place within the company. Leaders have followers, so whatever the leader focuses on is of the utmost importance. It is important that the leader keep his focus always on the customer, rather than internal politics, ego gratification, and other typical distractions within an organization.

— Remind employees of their mission within the organization. Leadership must sincerely and regularly remind workers of the reason they have jobs. A quick daily meeting can establish the tone of the work week and be a source of inspiration in an organization of any size. Employees have many distractions in the workplace and a constant conversational reminder will ground them in their primary cause within the company.

— Shine a spotlight on employees. One of the best ways to improve all-around customer service is to give employees the attention they deserve. After all, they are the ones who actually interact with customers. If the workers are consistently well trained, motivated, mentored, and equipped with the proper tools to serve the clientele, they will show outstanding passion for their job and thus do it well.

— Recognize outstanding service. One of leadership’s most important jobs is to honor individuals who go beyond their job descriptions and truly delight their customers. The best way to empower employees is to identify peers who have excelled in customer service. By identifying exceptional workers in a dignified manner, leadership sets the pace for other peers to follow.

— Realize that smart organizations learn from their mistakes. If an organization fails in delivering excellent customer service, leadership must be honest and open with both customers and employees about the mistakes that were made. Mistakes are important because they lead to innovation. Management must outline clear actions that will remove the causes of the organization’s failures and then take steps to alleviate the problem.

— Consider using a focus group. A focus group brings together a small, carefully selected group of people to explore perceptions about a certain idea, service, policy, or product. The power of a focus group lies in its ability to leverage multiple channels of communication and thought. When you buckle down and really explore the many facets of a possible innovation to the organization, you are more able to make well thought-out decisions.

— Keep customers informed of improvements. When an organization makes a much-needed innovation to its services, it must be communicated to the customers. They are the ones, after all, who demand the evolution. If customers don’t realize that there’s been an improvement, there’s no improvement.

Overall, a successful organization is one that offers the best services possible to their targeted clientele and does all it can to ensure that customers’ needs are met with promptness, gratitude, and courtesy. Any problem issues that arise with customers should be documented and addressed immediately. Meanwhile, management should research all possible modes of innovation to continue bringing the customer superior-quality service.

When an organization strives to bring the customer the very best, the customer will time and time again repay the organization with years of loyal patronage and thus keep the organization alive.

Craig Cochran is the north metro regional manager with Georgia Tech’s Economic Development Institute. He is a Certified Quality Manager, Certified Quality Engineer, and Certified Quality Auditor through the American Society for Quality. He’s certified as a QMS Lead Auditor through the RABQSA.

Cochran writes and speaks extensively on management, improvement, problem solving, customer satisfaction, and quality. He’s the author of The Continual Improvement Process: From Strategy to the Bottom Line and Customer Satisfaction: Tools, Techniques, and Formulas for Success.

His latest book is called Becoming a Customer-Focused Organization.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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