Characteristics of a Customer-Focused Organizational Model
A customer-focused business bases its operations around its relationships with clients. Social interaction and a desire to satisfy the needs and wants of consumers inform the decision-making process more than technical factors and rules of operations. Not only is this a conscious and friendly approach to take, but it also is often the key to a successful and profitable business.
To serve your customers at the highest level, you must know what they want. Market research is an effective way to identify your customer base and learn what they are looking for from your business. However, knowledge doesn't stop with formal research. The everyday operations of your business serve as a research lab. Ask questions of customers, and get to know as many of them as you can to gain a personal insight that you can't get from research. This knowledge-based approach should infuse every level of service, from top management down to the frontline workers.
Many businesses are friendly or put forth a good customer service image only to balk when it comes to real policy. A genuinely customer-focused business is willing to make sacrifices and take short-term losses for the sake of customer satisfaction. A customer-oriented business is willing to customize service as much as possible for the sake of the client. It's better to lose money by giving a restaurant customer some extra salad dressing, for example, or a call center customer a few extra minutes to hear his complaint than to lose them being rigid, unreasonable and unfriendly. The initial losses always pay for themselves in terms of image and loyalty.
A customer-focused business looks for meaningful and long-term interaction with clients. Many companies claim they want feedback from customers, only to ignore it when it occurs. Others carelessly bombard customers with unwanted offers and sales pitches. These approaches undermine your efforts because they don't foster a real dialogue with the customer. If you have a forum for customer feedback, listen to the suggestions and engage in a conversation. Forging an enduring bond with customers means that you listen to their points of view and treat them according to what they ask for.
The ultimate measure of a customer-focused organizational model is integrity. Every business makes some sort of claim or promise to customers and then delivers some version of that promise. A successful business does not get that way with big talk and disappointing delivery. The most important thing for a customer-focused organization to do is make realistic promises to the customer -- and keep those promises. Delivering on your claims is one of the cornerstones of a good business model. Any company that cares about its customers fulfills its promises.