Customer Orientation: Putting The Customer First
Customer-centric, customer orientation, customer obsessed: these buzzwords get thrown around frequently, but what do they really mean—and how can you implement these strategies at your own organization?
In today’s world, customer orientation is becoming increasingly expected in customer service, but harder and harder for companies to actually achieve. While customers expect businesses to know and adapt to their needs, few businesses do in a way that is truly exceptional.
As a result, businesses and organizations who can truly nail the customer orientation model give themselves major benefits and advantages in today’s marketplace.
Customer Orientation Defined
Customer orientation refers to a business strategy that keeps all teams oriented around and focused on the customer. In a customer-oriented business, all business strategy, operations, decisions and teams are centered on the customers’ needs and goals. Rather than attempting to orient your customer base around your current business focuses and goals, you orient your organization around the customers’ goals, preferences and so on.
As a result, customer orientation isn’t something that can be segmented off to the customer support or customer success team—rather, it’s something that requires a whole-company effort. In addition, rather than being a trending “add-on” or “buzzword” for your Q2 meetings, true customer orientation is something that is foundational to your business, a deep-seated strategy that underpins every decision.
If your organization doesn’t have a customer-oriented culture right now doesn’t mean you can’t create one over time. In this article, we’ll lay out some of the benefits, companies who are doing customer-orientation right, and steps to successfully implementing a customer-orientation strategy.
Benefits of Becoming a Customer Oriented Business
The bottom line? Customer-oriented organizations meet customers’ needs better, retain more customers and, ultimately, drive more revenue. Why? Because customers not only want to shop with and partner with brands who are oriented towards their needs (of course, who doesn’t?), customers are coming to expect it. Just take a look at the data on customer expectations:
- 66% of customers expect businesses to know what they personally want and need.
- 61% of customers say businesses treat them more like a number than individuals.
- Customers value personalization (59%) even over speed (53%) in their customer service experiences.
After all, there’s a lot of competition on the marketplace. If you can’t give your customers what they want, there’s probably someone else who can. And with more than 80% of customers saying they’d switch brands after just a few bad experiences, there’s not much margin for error.
Prioritizing customer orientation can give your organization a major leg up over your competition. Consider some of the benefits a customer-oriented philosophy can provide:
Improved customer retention and loyalty. It’s easier—and cheaper—to retain existing customers than to gain new ones, yet many companies focus more on acquisition than retention. But with new customers costing six to seven times as much to acquire as it does to retain existing customers, retention should be a key priority. Customer orientation improves retention and loyalty, since customers are more likely to do business with organizations who they feel know and meet their needs.
Increased product-market fit. Unsurprisingly, focusing more on your customer usually leads to a stronger product-market fit. By keeping your customer at the forefront of your decisions, you’re led to innovate and solve problems for your target audience, strengthening your place in the market and driving even higher retention in turn.
As Jeff Bezos puts it, “Even when they don’t yet know it, customers want something better, and your desire to delight customers will drive you to invent on their behalf.” One of Amazon’s key customer-centric principles relates back to continuously innovating for the customer. “By getting ahead of your customers’ needs, you stay relevant in providing continuous value for them.”
More referrals and lower CAC. Whether customers are satisfied or not, they turn to social media, online reviews and other word-of-mouth channels to share their opinions and experiences. In turn, these are trusted sources of information for other shoppers, with a whopping 92% of consumers saying they rely on “advice from friends and family” or online reviews to make purchasing decisions. Staying customer oriented makes for happier customers, who in turn will drive effective and widespread marketing for you, through word-of-mouth, social media and more. This in turn lowers your CAC by providing valuable, trusted marketing.
Reduced costs and improved revenue. Finally, all of this drives revenue and improves your bottom line as well—with reduced CAC from customer referrals and improved retention, your marketing costs are lowered. In addition, loyal customers and referred customers both have higher LTVs. They spend more, make more frequent purchases and refer more people—which is all part of why a 5% increase in retention has been found to increase profits by as much as 25%.