Businesses exist to provide products or services to customers. This may read like a basic fact of life, but in today’s world, profits tend to overshadow all else. It is easy to overlook customer’s needs when sales are prioritized more than the people involved.
To succeed as a business, even in the digital age, start-ups, entrepreneurs and business owners need to return to the core of doing business: Satisfying the customer needs and wants with through the delivery of valuable products and services.
No amount of creativity, marketing ingenuity or advertising will bring success without product and service demand. And, those driving the demand are your potential customers, which means, without customer focus, little demand will be realized.
This makes customer focus the critical mediator between demand and product or service delivery. It also impacts the way in which people - the customer - will talk about your brand.
For those who may have taken their eye of this critical component of the sales process, here are five ways to re-focus your business model on customer focus.
1. Putting Yourself in Their Shoes
First, you should put yourself (and your employees) in the shoes of your customers. This should be something you do every day and at every step of the sales process.
Putting yourself in the shoes of your customers enables you to:
- Identify genuine client and customer needs
- Identify roadblocks to conversion
- Identify the pain-points, as well as the gain-points, your customers are likely to experience as they travel the sales funnel highway.
Encouraging the members of your sales team, as well as those who work in R&D to have this mindset can be difficult. Over time, we all become preoccupied with individual processes, efficiency, and performance.
This creates a disconnect between employees and the customer with each party standing at opposite sides of the digital sales counter.
There is a reason why staff comes out from behind their desks at the car sale yard and the fashion store. Walking alongside your prospective client or customer removes the barrier and enables you to “walk at their pace” with a view to walking them successfully through the sales process.
Beyond the endless customer surveys sent to interrupt the busy lives of your clients and customers, encouraging your sales team to constantly test out your business as a customer can give invaluable insights.
2. Optimize Information Placement
Like any brick-and-mortar establishment, Search Engine Optimization for an online enterprise is all about the savvy placement of content.
While typically thought of as gaining and winning the attention of Google, good SEO should benefit both the customer and the business. After all, this is the basic algorithm operating for the search engine and what makes them so necessary: They exist to satisfy user demands and expectations.
Likewise, the placement of information on the page should be governed by user needs and expectations.
You can boost the customer focus of any sales page by:
- Providing easy access to relevant product or service information
- Answering pain-points
- Placing all sales-critical information front-and-center
- Providing testimonials
- Highlighting features and benefits
Don’t hide the pain points. Answer them. Avoid cluttering the page with features and benefits that you know (from walking in the customer’s shoes) are redundant.
Not only will this create natural on-page optimization which Google will later reward, but it will also more than likely increase conversions and repeat business.
Website design that fascinates the designer (or the business) but fails to adequately meet the expectations of the customer is a hindrance to sales because it is not grounded in the principles of customer-focus.
Customers, potentially impatient ones, may get annoyed (or even lost) if they have to search through paragraphs or even pages of drivel, handle pop-ups to get what they want.
It sometimes pays to let fresh eyes go over page elements and page information to ensure that customer-focus is maintained as an integral part of your overall quality management process.
When the relevant information is easy to navigate and easy to find, your customer satisfaction will increase, and so too your sales.
3. Always Follow Up
Customer service should not end the moment a transaction is finalized. Having proper follow-up procedures in place will help to identify weak points in your service and improve upon them.
Good follow-up should not be intrusive but constructive. Here are some ideas:
- Email the customer and invite them to contact you with any questions.
- Invite them to provide feedback in the simplest form possible
- Call them
- Provide additional information (where it would be truly helpful) on making the most of the product or service you delivered.
- Utilize Social Media as a point of contact
Given its prevalence, social media is a great way to build your brand. It’s also an excellent way to keep the conversation going in a way that doesn’t create as many negative interruptions.
Look for ways to incorporate customer-focus into your SEO proposal templates. This not only keeps your sales team efficient, but it also ensures fewer gaps and missed opportunities to interact with clients and customers.
In short, keep the conversation going without being a nuisance and without interrupting them in ways that don’t provide immediate to short-term gains for your customer.
4. Clear Communication
It’s important to use precise language when dealing with customers. Keep your sales language and after-sales communication as simple as possible.
Talk the language and walk at the pace of your client or customer.
- Avoid jargon
- Avoid cliche’s
- Avoid convoluted paragraphs and descriptions.
This includes the communication that takes place with pre and post customer sales and support.
Don’t obfuscate. Answer their questions. If you don’t have an answer, reassure them you will go and find one.
These communications are a great way to build trust and authority for your brand. Being transparent with your actions helps prevent customers from setting impossible deadlines and unrealistic expectations which you will fail to deliver.
5. Assess, Modify, Adapt
Feedback is critical in maintaining good customer focus. These include feedback about your service, your sales process as well as the product itself. That said, getting feedback is not enough. You must use this information to assess how your company is doing and modify how things are handled there. An index or benchmark like the Market Responsiveness Index can help to quantify this.
One of the issues some companies face when trying to increase customer focus is their willingness to change and adapt. Criticism can be hard to take, but this is the first step in inciting change within your business.
Reacting to criticism positively will help to improve your customer focus. Beyond this, being proactive and anticipating the needs and problems of your customers will go a long way toward improving an existing brand and in developing a customer-focused brand from the ground up.
We have all witnessed examples of this in business. Kentucky Fried Chicken saw the writing on the wall for fat-fried chicken and rebranded their entire franchise to KFC. Other brands have made similar customer-driven moves to accommodate variations in culture and social attitudes.
The fundamental principle in all of these changes was a desire to remain focused on where their customers were at. Sales, service and product assessment should be an ongoing part of any truly customer-focused enterprise.
This can only come about by knowing your customers well enough to see their needs and expectations, and then getting into their shoes - or at least alongside them - in order to further orientate your brand to your ideal customer.
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