It’s a common claim for businesses to make—the message that “we are customer-centric” or “we are relentlessly focused on our customers” is ubiquitous in marketing materials. However, when statements such as these are undefined or not clarified, it’s easy for team members to misunderstand what real customer focus is and is not.
As you pursue customer service excellence within your organization, here are seven behaviors and mindsets to avoid:
1. Viewing Your Customer as Only a Sale
View your customer as someone with ongoing needs. If you are only looking ahead to closing a sale, you aren’t thinking about the long-term needs of your customer. Someone with a genuine focus on the customer will carefully assess and analyze long-term customer goals and help select products and services that meet those long-term goals—even if it means less income in the short term.
2. Covering Up the Truth When Things Go Wrong
There is no replacement for integrity, and few things will make someone leave a vendor or provider faster than broken trust. If things go wrong, whether it’s your fault or not, own up to it. Take responsibility and ask what you can do to make things right.
3. Relying on a Hunch Rather Than on Research and Debate
Never assume what your customers want or expect without taking time to dig into their ultimate goals through research, questions, and even open debate. Sometimes these conversations might be challenging, but the give and take may actually produce a customer for life who feels valued and appreciated.
4. Assuming Customers Will Stay With You Because of Past History
Long-term customer relationships rely on more than just the calendar. If you’re counting on customers to stay with you, you need to pay attention to evolving needs and problems. Customer experience surveys repeatedly show that just one or two bad experiences will cause customers to sever the relationship. All relationships require nurturing, and assuming your customer will always purchase from you is a losing strategy that shrinks your customer base over time.
5. Not Understanding Their Alternate Vendor Options
You should always be aware of your competition and what it can offer your current customers. The worst time to realize that competitors are undercutting your prices or offering new benefits is when you want to renew a contract!
6. Not Translating Jargon to Words and Concepts They Know
Never assume that your customer knows what you’re talking about. This principle can be especially helpful in industries such as technology or medicine, where acronyms and specialized terms are the name of the game. Customers don’t want you to talk down to them, but they want to understand the language and concepts you’re using. Simply make it a point to clarify your industry language so that your customers are on the same page.
7. Tracking Success Based on Your Metrics Instead of Their Metrics
If you’re only considering your customer relationship a success because of ongoing business, you may be missing important metrics. How is your product or service helping your customers meet their goals? What goals are they trying to meet? Ask these questions to gauge how to improve your offerings or steer your customer to a better product or service that meets their goals.
Take care of your customer, or someone else will! Customer focus is the ability to deliver your product or service so that you fulfill the needs, wants, and values of your customer better than anyone else. To be genuinely focused on your customer requires more than just a contract renewal or payment; it requires developing a relationship that takes the time to understand what your customers need and what’s important to them.
- What is one thing you will do to plan better around your customers?
- What is the one thing that has worked for you in developing client relationships?
- What is one thing you should stop doing in meetings or calls with customers?