Customer Focus Inside Out
Developing Customer Focus is a theme that has been prevalent over the past two decades. Organizations commonly talk about becoming customer-focused, customer-centric, or customer-centered. And if they’re not talking about that, they are often waving their flags in a “One Company” drive to become unified in service to their customers – which actually amounts to the same thing as customer focus in terms of what has to be done to achieve it and the net result.
So whether you hear “customer service”, “One [insert name of company]”, or any of the related terms above, they fundamentally mean the same thing – Customer Focus.
Defining Customer Focus
Interestingly, there are even more definitions for customer focus than there are pseudo-names for it. A quick Google search brings up plenty of them. Some characterize it as a marketing or sales thing, some talk about company culture, and some emphasize products and services. Given the true nature of customer focus, and all that is involved, these definitions are too limited. Our research turned up a definition at BusinessDictionary.com that suits the breadth of the term and the reality of customer focus.
Customer focus is:
“The orientation of an organization toward serving its clients’ needs. Having a customer focus is usually a strong contributor to the overall success of a business and involves ensuring that all aspects of the company put its customers’ satisfaction first.”
Achieving Customer Focus
Now that we’ve defined it, how do we achieve it? Here, again, we find a plethora of opinions and advice out there. It is no wonder that leaders are often confused about how to approach customer focus. While there is much interest among companies and government agencies in achieving customer focus, they often find the path to success quite elusive. They try this program and that, only to end up with many of the same problems they started with – or perhaps they simply exchanged old problems with new ones. Unfortunately, this outcome is quite common.
This article and our more in-depth eBook are written to help leaders avoid these sub-optimal circumstances and adopt a practical and realistic path towards implementing customer focus.
But before you read too much, let’s get right to the heart of the matter because there is some good news and some bad news. If you are looking for a magic silver bullet, read no more because you won’t find it here. If, on the other hand, you are looking for insight, wisdom, and a true path towards customer focus, read on.
Here are some basic truths about customer focus, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the wonderful.
The Wrong Problems
The majority of customer focus programs address symptoms only. If you have been part of one or more of these, join the crowd.
The Wrong Focus
Most customer focus consultants tell you to focus on the customer. That seems right, even obvious, but it is wrong in that it is only partially right. What they should be telling you is to focus on ALL customers, including internal customers.
The major irony of achieving customer focus in a company or government agency is that you must first focus within the company in order to be truly equipped to successfully focus on your external customers. Simply creating a “shell” around your company with people assigned to focus on the external customers NEVER WORKS. Customers see right through the shell when their needs and issues aren’t addressed.
The Big Picture
Achieving customer focus is not just about changing and/or developing your people, although that is clearly a critical part of it. It also involves some surgery and reconstruction on your organization and operations.
There is more work involved in moving a business towards customer focus than most leaders are aware of – or would like there to be. It is a major, multi-year endeavor. In fact, it never really ends. It is more a way of life in your business than a discrete program.
It is worth it. Yes, it is worth dealing with all of the above “bad news” in many ways. Indeed, your customers will see big differences. They will be much more satisfied and loyal to your business – which of course will drive up revenues. Productivity will increase as you realign your structure, roles, processes, and systems to be customer focused. Your products and services will improve as your people hear your customers better. They will build better solutions focused more on customers’ needs. And, at the heart of it all, your people will be happier and more engaged in their work, with more focus on creativity and service, and less on protecting themselves and dealing with internal conflict.
Developing Customer Focus eBook
Our eBook provides a practical and insightful primer for leaders who want to bring customer focus into their businesses. It provides leaders what they need to know and understand in order to develop their own customer focus strategies. It helps leaders avoid the wasted time and resources associated with treating symptoms. Most importantly, it provides a blueprint for a realistic and successful approach.
For more information on customer focus solutions, please visit our Customer Focus page.