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customer focus is658367192 largeEvery company wants to believe it offers a good customer experience. A report by Bain & Company shows perceptions differ greatly, however, between the suppliers and the recipients of those services. A study determined that 80 percent of respondents believed they offered clients a superior experience, but a survey of the customers showed only 8 percent of clients felt the companies were getting it right.

The ONE Thing

There’s currently much ado in the business world about the book “The ONE Thing” by Gary Keller, which has given birth to a number of other publications all based on discovering the single most critical success factor in each particular industry.

I believe that the one thing of primary importance for any business is customer service. It’s the hub around which business success revolves, and it doesn’t only apply to the people who work in sales or those who deal with your clients. The importance of good customer service delivery exists across the board, to every employee and every function.

It’s a package, not a point.

It’s a package, not a point.

Over the next few months, I’m going to cover various aspects of customer service and how you can make your business a wholly customer-centric one. First, let’s look at what customer service is vs. a customer centric approach – what it means, why it’s important, and the multiple methods you can use to develop it.

Later, we’ll take into account mitigating factors, look at individual industry types and business models, and identify ways you can create an ongoing culture of customer care.

What “Customer Service” Really Means

As the act of serving customers, on its own it doesn’t mean much.

As the act of serving customers, on its own it doesn’t mean much. Customer service can be good, bad or indifferent, and business will still go on. It will even take a while, in most companies, before exceptionally bad service filters through to the operations and other departments and affects their work.

For this reason, we’re looking at customer service in the light of quality, and how good (or even better, excellent) customer service can be a game-changer for a small to medium-sized business.

Over the years, however, customer service has evolved from a model of taking the client’s order, filling the order, and charging the fee, to one that resembles relationship management. In some industries, doing this work requires the person to be almost a subject matter expert who can demonstrate how the product or service works, and troubleshoot the client’s initial purchase.

In other industries such as retail, customer service retains components of the traditional function but also includes the ability to:

  • Empathize with clients,
  • Handle complaints, and
  • Resolve disputes.

In most instances, it definitely means having a detailed knowledge of the inventory, experience using the products or services, and the ability to help prospects make the best choices for their needs.

But what about the guy who builds the widget in the factory, or the admin clerk who handles the invoicing?

But what about the guy who builds the widget in the factory, or the admin clerk who handles the invoicing? They might not be in the business of providing customer service, but they still need to have a customer-centric focus. Why is this, and how do you instill it in them?

A Client-Centric Focus

Client-centricity is “the creation of a positive experience for customers,” both at the point of sale and post-sale. To achieve this, it’s essential for you to focus on customer satisfaction at every stage of your business’s activities. Delivering a great product or service, for example, isn’t particularly beneficial if the customer:

  1. Doesn’t know how to use it,
  2. Isn’t properly trained in implementation,
  3. Receives faulty items, or
  4. Gets consistently overcharged by your accounts department!

Building a customer-centric company means focusing on the client’s needs, every step of the way.

Building a customer-centric company means focusing on the client’s needs, every step of the way. It starts at the top and runs right through the organization down to the lowest-level employee. Regardless of the quality of customer service you offer, client-centricity is paramount if you want to build a reputation for quality and delivery.

Why the Difference Matters

So, why is it important to cultivate a client-centric focus in your business as well as fostering excellent client service?

Isn’t it enough to do just one or the other?

Isn’t it enough to do just one or the other? I don’t believe so. Simply put, customer service is the action on your part of dealing with your client. Customer experience is the way your customer perceives getting that service, and customer centricity (or lack of it) is what determines the size of the gap between the two perceptions.

As a business owner, you might be strongly customer centric, but to differentiate your company from competitors it’s critical that the same philosophy underscores every single employee and their activities.

This is not something that only applies to large organizations, but it almost always applies to the successful ones.

This is not something that only applies to large organizations, but it almost always applies to the successful ones. Take the time to evaluate whether your company has a customer-centric approach across all aspects of your business. If you find it’s lacking, follow my next few articles for an in-depth look at how to change this.

Future Articles

  • Part II: Designing customer-focused core values
  • Part III: Building a customer centric culture in your company;
  • Part IV: Getting your employees to adopt customer-centricity as a mantra
  • Part V: Tactics for implementing customer services

Resources:

  • https://ijgolding.com/2015/11/30/customer-service-customer-experience-customer-centricity-what-is-the-difference-between-them/
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2014/07/20/customer-centric-culture/1
  • https://www.superoffice.com/blog/how-to-create-a-customer-centric-strategy/
  • https://hbr.org/sponsored/2016/03/know-the-difference-between-customer-service-and-customer-experience
  • http://bain.com/bainweb/pdfs/cms/hotTopics/closingdeliverygap.pdf
  • https://www.thebalance.com/interview-questions-about-customer-service-2063349

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