Putting customers at the heart of your business is harder than it used to be. Once upon a time, being customer-centric meant delivering great customer service and quality products. Today, it’s about a lot more than that.
Modern customers can engage with companies over countless channels. Online or offline, in-app or in person, each experience leaves an impression. This presents a big challenge for businesses. How do you focus on customer needs when the modern customer experience is so noisy? How do you measure customer happiness when so many customer interactions are automated and human-less?
These aren’t simple questions, but there may be a simple answer. In order to stay customer-centric, business leaders have to build a culture that values customer-centricity above all else.
Creating a Customer-Centric Culture
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos leaves a seat empty at the conference table to represent the customer. This gesture speaks volumes. When leaders promote a customer-centric philosophy, it filters down through the ranks. Amazon’s employees and investors might think twice before making decisions that negatively impact their customers.
There are simple steps you can take to infuse the voice of the customer into everyday operations. Here are some examples.
1. Share customer feedback company-wide.
It’s easy to tune out customer concerns when you’re not in a customer-facing role. Out of sight, out of mind. To combat that, many companies amplify the customer voice internally. Campaign Monitor runs a Net Promoter Score program to measure customer engagement and stay in tune with customer needs. Each month, the Customer Success and Product teams sit down to review feedback together and prioritize feature requests. This collaborative approach keeps the Product team in sync with customer needs and helps Customer Success advocate for their customers. (They also showcase the company’s Net Promoter Score on TVs in the office, for all to see.)
Similarly, our Director of Customer Support and Customer Experience sends out a monthly, company-wide email called “GetFeedback Customer Voice.” In it, she highlights the top feature requests and pain points customers shared the previous month. This increases accountability and reminds us our decisions impact people daily.
2. Make customer care everyone’s job (at least once).
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh reportedly joins his support team every holiday season, fielding customer questions. Umpqua CEO Cort O’Haver puts a silver phone in every bank location—customers can pick it up and call him directly. These leaders take a radical approach to customer-centricity. They live out the philosophies they promote, knowing it’s the best way to unite employees around shared goals.
It may not be realistic for every CEO to jump in the queue and help customers, but every business leader should demonstrate the value of customer care by participating in it, and asking others to do the same. Many companies require new hires to spend a week or more tackling cases with the customer support team. This not only familiarizes employees with common customer challenges, but it fosters camaraderie and respect.
3. Hold leadership accountable to customer metrics.
Who would you say is responsible for customer satisfaction at your company? (We actually want to know. Fill out the survey below to tell us!)
Metrics that correlate with customer happiness and loyalty—like Net Promoter Score® and Customer Effort Score—are rarely considered key performance metrics for people outside support. That also means they’re rarely discussed company-wide. A simple way to start building customer-centricity? Hold other leaders accountable. Bake customer experience metrics into business initiatives and ask for customer feedback on things other than customer support interactions.
4. Empower your support team.
No one knows customers better than the people that interact with them daily, but customer support is often excluded from conversations they should be a part of. When their voices aren’t heard, neither are customers. It’s up to business leaders to give customer support a seat at the table. Include them in product discussions. Ask for their input on go-to-market strategy. Help them advocate for customers. And more than anything, respect their opinions when they share them.
In order to create a consistent, high-quality customer experience, companies need to build customer-centric attitude from the top down. That means giving customers a voice internally, and advocating for their needs—even when you’re not the one answering to them.