Customer satisfaction should be more than an afterthought. It should be a crucial part of your strategy. After all, your customer’s success guarantees yours. From actual social proof to free word-of-mouth advertising, adopting a customer-first strategy will help grow your business exponentially. Here’s everything you need to know.
What is the “Customer First” strategy?
At the most basic level, the customer first strategy encourages decisions to start at the needs and problems of their customers and work from there when engineering their product and service.
Every decision should be related to the customer and serve to improve their lives or improve the customer experience
Let’s look at an example: imagine you’re running a Software as a service business. Your customers require a customer support system that allows you to handle many requests at a time with the fastest possible response time. Here you can list the options available: online call, phone support, an email ticket system, or live chat.
In this case, live chat would be the best option – it meets your customer’s needs for fast response times and can reach support from the comfort of your service’s dashboard.
If it’s customer first, what’s in it for you?
At its core, the customer first approach focuses on the customer experience and will build customer loyalty and trust. This is more than likely to increase average order value and create recurring customers.
Generating a reputation that your company goes above and beyond customer expectations will build brand value. This allows you to raise prices and helps make upsells more attractive.
Lastly, people are most likely to spread the word about bad experiences and great experiences. Simply “good” or “pleasant” experience might create a loyal customer, but a great experience will create a brand advocate.
How to practice a customer-first strategy?
A customer-first strategy may seem simple on paper, but it will take a lot of effort to implement. Here are the must-do steps to get you started:
1. Build a strong buyer persona
Every product is different, and so are its consumers. Having an in-depth understanding of who your potential leads are, you’ll need an extensive buyer persona profile. To start, you’ll need to perform a customer analysis
It needs to cover everything from your customer’s age, gender, income level, spending habits, likes and dislikes, and the causes they’re attracted to.
It’s essential to base your model on actual data. Some speculation isn’t going to do the trick. Luckily, if you’re already running a business, you can gather most of this data through platforms like Facebook Pixel and Google Analytics. On top of that, you can always conduct focus group interviews and use other qualitative analysis techniques.
Additionally, be sure to sort and analyze product reviews and customer feedback. This will help you understand what needs you fulfil successfully, where customers felt you exceeded expectations, and where your efforts were lacking.
2. Get everyone involved
A customer-first approach isn’t created just by the customer support team. Your developers, marketers, and everyone in between need to be on the same page. Why? Your customer’s experience doesn’t only depend on support. It depends on the purchase flow, use, troubleshooting, and even unsubscribing.
A popular technique to encourage employees to understand customers better and put their needs first, make customer support an integral part of your internal culture. Many companies require new hires to spend at least one day working in customer support, while others have all employees read and sort support tickets.
3. Do not stop growing
The road to perfection never ends. That’s why even if it feels like you implemented all the best practices to improve the customer experience, you can’t slow down. It might take competitors months or even weeks to catch up and borrow ideas you implemented. That’s why you will have to look for new, innovative ways to further improve the service you provide.
4. Promote transparency
Few things kill sales harder than getting caught in a lie. Practising transparency will simply help you make sure you’re not accidentally building the wrong expectations in your customers. If they have the wrong expectations and feel angry or upset because you failed to meet them, that’s not their fault – it’s your communication
Practice transparency at all levels: explain what happens if a customer receives an incredibly slow reply during a support experience. Your service experienced downtime, or worse yet, was hacked – make it clear as fast as possible, present what you are doing to fix the issue, and what can the customer do to protect themselves, or their data.
5. Judge success by the right metrics
Sales aren’t going to start growing overnight. It might not even come in a single financial quarter. It’s also important to remember that even if you play your cards right, your revenue is likely to be higher during the holiday and Black Friday seasons, than any other quarter.
However, there are two metrics that will help you objectively understand if your customer first strategy implementation is working – NPS and churn.
The Net Promoter Score comes in one very simple question: How likely are you to recommend a product to your friend, colleague, or family member? Customer satisfaction-centric changes will greatly impact this score and give you an idea of your strategy’s effectiveness.
Meanwhile, the customer churn rate will help you understand whether the customer experience you provide keeps people on your platform, or using your product.
A customer-first approach should never be an afterthought. Half-hearted attempts to please customers and build misleading expectations are going to do more bad than good.
Having an in-depth understanding of who your customer is and what you can do to go above and beyond their needs will create advocates that won’t just stay loyal but bring others to your business.
But remember, an effective customer-first strategy can only be achieved if everyone on your team is on the same page. Good luck.