“It starts at the top.” That’s a common phrase we’ve all heard in relation to an organization’s culture. But implementing any type of change in company culture isn’t always easy. In my last post, I discussed the 3 C’s of a customer-first organization: communication, customer programs, and culture. Today, we’ll dive into the third C, culture. It’s how successful organizations make their customers a priority and ensure they feel the ❤️, even when faced with competing business objectives such as profit margins, growth, and efficiency.
A holistic approach to a customer-first culture
Having a customer-first culture means regularly seeking input from your customers, through communication and customer programs, and then acting on that input. Enlightened leaders set the tone when they infuse strategic planning and decision-making with questions like “do we know what our customers think?” and “Is this based on empirical input from users?”
This may mean holding on to business objectives so you can take a step back to observe customer interactions, understand your decision-making process, and predict how your customers will react. This may feel like a leap of faith but when you put customers first, other objectives such as profit margins or growth will follow.
Once you and your leadership team have embraced a customer-first culture, the next step is to ensure this approach can percolate through the rest of the organization. This means creating alignment and clear lines of communication between the different groups within the company.
Think of it as a waterfall effect.
- Marketing builds brand and drives leads with customer-focused, benefit-led messaging.
- Sales turns leads into prospects then closes deals, using the company’s customer-first messaging in their interactions.
And it doesn’t stop with the sale. Once a prospect becomes a customer other teams step up—
- Consulting and training for onboarding and implementation
- Customer support/success for product support
- Operations teams, like shipping & logistics and billing
Every relationship a customer needs to do business with you should be aligned to deliver consistent experiences so customers feel the ❤️ through every encounter.
When every team is in sync and every person in the organization understands that customers are the priority, the culture supports a deep understanding of what’s going on with any situation for any customer. Customers feel the caring and are more inclined to share positive experiences with friends, family, and colleagues.
After a good experience, 87% of customers will say something nice about you to at least one person. A third, 33%, will share their good experience with at least five people. But beware—after a bad experience the numbers are even more skewed as 95% will tell of their bad experience to at least one person and over half, 54%, will dish to at least five people.¹
Train, measure, and adapt
How do organizations increase customer focus and the outcomes it drives, like increased customer lifetime value, reduced churn, and more referrals? Start by changing the way you communicate. The words you use need to be audience-focused and benefit-led, showing your knowledge of your customers’ lives and how they use your products or services. Most of 3C’s workshops and coaching focus on this—helping sales, marketing, and customer support professionals find the right words and ways to build customer connections.
Changing language and being intentional about building relationships helps drive cultural change, helped along by customer programs to drive engagement, empower customer input, and bring the customers’ voice into decision-making and strategy development.
Finally, measure results from the start. Relationships are not built overnight so highlight early wins and expect to see solid improvement over time. Successful customer-first companies keep track of how they are doing and where adjustments must be made. Adjustments don’t necessarily indicate that anything is going wrong, they often reflect a heightened awareness of customer needs and input—sort of a “rapid reaction” that allows you to outmaneuver competition by being more responsive, faster.
Now it’s your turn! Assess your organization’s culture, or let’s talk about having 3C evaluate your current customer culture. If you are ready to create a more customer-focused organization, we can help define your baseline and your path to improvement. With assessments, training, and management consulting on building customer connection, getting you more customer ❤️ is our passion.
- Research conducted by Dimensional Research, for the customer service software company Zendesk.