When was the last time you hugged your customer? Why customer focus is the only way to go!

W. Edwards Deming said some decades ago “The customer is the most important part of the production line”.

This was many years before the rise of social media and today it’s more valid than ever. Deming understood that customer focus is THE key aspect of any successful business. No businesses can succeed without serving its customers with products/services which either solve a problem or at least add value to their lives. It’s about them – not you as a business. They are the reason why your business exists. 

This may sound like common sense, right? But unfortunately it’s not! Just look around you and you will see that many companies still don’t get it. Most of them don’t even know their customers. They don’t spend time on getting to know them. They ignore that we’re living in a world powered by social media which can bring us closer to our customers and unlock new opportunities. Don’t be one of them!

4 things which will bring you back on the customer focus track:

  1. Listen and never stop listening: There have never been more relevant data available publicly ready to be used for your business. You should use these data to understand your market, customer needs and the competitive landscape. If you cannot afford monitoring tools or business intelligence services to provide you with these data and insights, the least you can do is to spend some time yourself doing the “listening”: Browse the web and check out forums and reviews that are relevant to your business. A google search will allow you to tap into interesting stories within your industry. With Facebook graph search you can connect the dots between people. With Twitter hashtags and trending topics you can see what’s happening in your market right now. No excuses, please!
  2. Selling is actually doing good: When you really start having a customer focus in everything you do and once you made your customer your priority number one, selling becomes a pleasure – not a burden. You don’t need to feel bad. You don’t just chase your customers money, you’re offering a great solution, solving a problem, adding value to their lives. You’re here to help. You’re doing something good. What are you waiting for? It’s time to move from cold calls to warm selling. Your customers will love it!
  3. From product to customer development: It’s about moving from product development to “customer development”. This concept is applied within the startup scene for leaner and bootstrapped market entries. Although it mainly helps startup survive longer by cutting costs and winning valuable time in the pursuit of a sustainable business model, it also proves the power of seeing your customers as part of your team. The customer should be head of product, marketing and sales today. By inviting your customers to work closely with you, you create an ally and supporter who will do some pretty important work for you: To buy your product/service and to spread the word for you.
  4. Your customer – the new Head of Marketing and Sales: Business is based on relationships. It’s people’s business. It’s about trust and credibility which you cannot influence by spending media dollars alone. People care more about what their peers say than what your ad is shouting at them. In today’s world people can choose whom they follow and listen to and whom not. Here’s what you should do: As a customer focussed business you should open the stage for your happy customers. Let them tell the world how great you are. Make it easy to for them share their stories related to your product/service. Give them the tools they need to bring their friends and business partners. Reward them for doing so. Don’t be afraid of loosing control – you’re not in control anyway;)

Summing it all up – it’s all about serving your customers the best way you can by knowing them, serving them and making them part of your team. It’s about walking the extra mile and over delivering whenever you can. Why don’t you stop hunting more new customers and focus on serving your existing customers better instead. We’re happy to hear how you delight your customers and how you have been delighted as a customer – tell us your stories in the comments, please!

PS: One thing you should Ttell your CFO: The magic is to stop thinking in quarter results and start thinking in “customer lifetime value”.  Do you see the difference?

(Credits for the image go to @gapingvoid!)



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