If there’s one thing your company should never lose focus on, it’s the customers. Ensuring your company is customer-focused from day one puts a sustainable and successful model in place as your company grows. Not only that, but it allows for your company to maximize success for your number one asset—customers.
Founders and CEOs know that their companies need to be customer focused, but how do you ensure it? Industries all over the world, whether they’re B2B or B2C, are building their businesses from their customers’ or consumers’ perspective. Knowing the needs and developing solutions centered on those needs allows you to be proactive in innovating, solve problems effectively, and most importantly—build customer loyalty. The most invaluable assets to a business are customer advocates.
Below are the top 8 ways to ensure that you’re establishing best practices for customer success in your company from day one—and they all start with putting the customer first:
1. It starts at the top
Successful executives know how to balance their time with customers in order to nurture and maximize relationships. When a customer is signed, it’s not just for the number on the contract—it’s for what that number will grow to be. Developing relationships with your customers from day one builds customer loyalty which transcends into renewals, and even better, referrals.
So where do you start? There are numerous ways for executives to be involved personally with each of their customers. Savvy CEOs recognize that recurring revenue is built upon loyal customers, and ongoing touch points to nurture those customer relationships are key:
- Block time on your calendar each week to reach out to your customers to develop a relationship and open the lines of communication. You won’t regret that time investment.
- Empower your team members to hold the CEO accountable for knowing their customers.
- Don’t stop at being aware of your customers’ success, acknowledge them for it. As the CEO, never lose sight of recognizing your customers.
2. Empower everyone to pull the cord
Empowering employees is easier than it sounds. As a leader, it’s about providing your team with the tools they need and then letting them succeed. So often leaders feel as though they have to run the assembly line themselves. The challenge is knowing what tools to provide your team and allowing them to run with it. Remember, your business is moving a million miles a minute, you need to make sure everyone is on board to be a leading contributor to success.
3. Have an escalation plan
What does this plan look like? A simple and effective framework is centered around communication and transparency. Being left in the dark when a critical part of the business is hindered is the worst situation to leave your customers in. Set up the three P’s of a solution:
1. Problem: Identify the problem or issue.
2. Progress: Establish and communicate the steps to resolution.
3. Prevention: Put preventative measures in place to prevent the same thing from happening in the future.
Showing your clients that you not only care, but have a plan for their success even when things go bad transforms you from merely a vendor to a partner. How you handle an escalation could be the deciding factor in truly gaining the customer’s loyalty and advocacy.
4. Embrace it: Early customer journey’s will have bumps in the road
Even though you may have “done this before,” scaling won’t be without growing pains. The key in defeating this is always knowing your customers’ needs and nurturing that relationship with those needs in mind. When you’re working with your first set of clients, set your team up for success with the realization that it’s not going to be perfect.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be wins either. What makes the wins even better is how you handle the hiccups along the way. You don’t have to be an expert problem solver, it’s inevitable that a problem will arise that you haven’t experienced before. What seals the deal in driving loyalty and satisfaction is how far you’ll go to find that solution, with the customer’s critical needs in mind.
5. Calling all CEOs: You don’t have to do everything
The greatest leaders know how to harness the strengths of their team and trust in their ability to deliver. CEO’s don’t need to do everything themselves. Engage the entire team. If a CEO tries to solve every problem, the rest of the organization will look at them as a crutch rather than a leader. You want your CEO to nurture your team’s ability to solve and drive success. You’ll never scale customer success if you don’t build the ability early.
6. Map out your ideal customer journey
Knowing your customer journey from day one not only allows your company to always have a view of the customer’s perspective, but it aligns all facets of the business throughout the lifecycle of the customer. Make sure that your product, services, and sales teams are aligned with the customer lifecycle. When you know what your customer journey looks like, you can easily identify what the goals across your organization should be, and how each team contributes to those goals.
7. Embrace your loudest customers
I recently posted a blog to ClientSuccess that speaks clearly on this topic. The post explains that the best companies learn how to embrace their loudest customers (which may not always be their biggest customers). When customers have tons of feedback, or issues, it isn’t always a bad thing. These customers want you to succeed, otherwise they wouldn’t push you so hard. Encourage your team to have conversations with these vocal customers to understand their pain points. If you can tackle those issues sufficiently, you will most likely solve problems other customers care about as well.
8. Know what to prioritize
If you aren’t careful, you can make the mistake of chasing the “nice-to-haves” your customers want without truly executing on your vision to deliver “need-to-haves” that your customers may not have the foresight to see. Encourage your customers to look at you as a strategic partner, not just a vendor. Know your customers’ goals and educate them on how your vision is essential to achieving them.
Think about why your company emerged in the first place: a passion for solving significant problems for your customers and for the space you are in. Your customers feel the same way about their company. A shared vision with your customers in producing a true partnership is key to both you and your customers’ success. Use the suggestions we’ve put together as the foundation for a winning, customer-focused company.
Customer success platforms like ClientSuccess are tremendous assets for any company that wants to ensure customers are at the forefront. Have other ideas of how companies can become customer focused? Drop me a line by leaving a comment!