Customer-first organizations do three things well, these are practices they invest in and keep balanced—communication, customer programs, and culture. Each component needs the others to form a whole, and ensure customers feel the ❤️.
Breaking down the three C’s
Let’s dig into the elements of a successful customer-first organization, and how they can be applied to your everyday business processes and activities.
Good business communication is audience-focused and benefit-led. Think–who is in your audience, what is their emotional state and readiness for your message, and how will they receive your information? This intentional approach lets you fine-tune your message to get your desired action.
Customer communication in action: For several years I have worked with a leading software company in a specific niche that holds an annual, live, customer event. Before COVID it was an in-person event; the last two years it has been virtual, but the bottom line is always that the company wants to get customers excited and grow their relationship.
3C Communications works with the product managers and product marketers to develop presentation material and talk tracks, humanizing and answering, “so what?” for all the new features added over the past year. Each year the biggest challenge for the product experts who present is how to get out of corporate-speak and into customer-speak. We ask, “How can we put this into audience-focused and benefit-led language that lets the audience recognize their day-to-day interaction with the software, that speaks to their goals for their own customer relationships?”
Over a few working sessions, it’s awesome to watch our client’s product executives move from a “what we did” mindset to a “what our customers do” mindset and language. They get great feedback when they show they have been thinking deeply about how they make their customers’ lives better, helping those customers serve and delight THEIR customers.
Loyalty programs, surveys, re-imagined customer journeys, listening via focus groups and advisory councils—all these programs create a two-way line of communication that let your customers know you are listening and you care about their input. You get to learn from them and take that information to build better products and services.
Customer programs in action: A Net Promoter Score (NPS) survey is a common program that involves sending a one-question survey (often after an interaction such as customer service or a purchase)—”On a scale of zero to 10 how likely are you to recommend our company?”
I learned from a friend who is an exec in a local financial services firm here in Seattle who takes these responses to heart. If any client returns a score of six or less on their NPS questions, the firm has a senior executive get in touch with the dissatisfied client to learn more about the situation, find out whether the response is a reaction to a single incident or an ongoing frustration, and fix it as quickly as possible.
3C clients learn to look for common issues driving dissatisfaction, and we re-design policies and processes to eliminate them when we do operational and strategic planning.
What does a customer-first culture look like? It’s empowered employees regularly seeking customer input through every method possible, then acting on that input. It also means having the right alignment inside of the organization and eliminating silos between functional teams, so everyone works together towards their common goal.
Customer-first culture in action: In my corporate days, I helped start and run the Partner Advisory Council for Microsoft Services. When colleagues envisioned and prepared new service products, they sought input from my group. I worked with them to schedule time with the council to present their ideas, and they truly listened to the feedback from the council, bringing these insights back into the organization. This is an example of building a customer-focused culture. We empowered employees to not just think about the customer, but to seek out insights and reactions directly from them, and then weave them back into operational and strategic planning.
Are you ready to create a customer-first organization? Plan a chat to tell me more about your work, and to have your questions answered about how we can help your organization generate more customer ❤️.