Developing a Customer-Focused Organization

By: Monica Nolan


Is your organization customer-focused? As the economy regains strength, consumers will feel comfortable spending more. By fortifying your customer engagement approach now, you can position your organization to take full advantage of the eventual upturn. Fostering customer engagement is also the most effective way to recover lost customers and acquire new ones. This is because fully engaged customers recruit new customers for you – they are enthusiastic about the service you provide and recommend you to others. If you can create a customer-centric organization, you can successfully generate fully engaged customers (as well as higher profits).

There are two key variables in engineering a customer-centric organization: customer engagement and employee engagement. Through Customer Engagement Management (CEM), you can take practical steps to increase customer engagement. Although nearly any organization can improve customer engagement through CEM, we have found that customer engagement scores improve even further when organizations also use Employee Engagement Management (EEM). EEM practices create a healthy organizational culture in the workplace so that your employees feel passionate about their work. Although some immediate actions can be taken to improve employee engagement, EEM will likely involve a longer process of internal change and growth.

Customer Engagement
Generally, an engaged customer is one who actively supports a service or product. Customer engagement is more than just brand loyalty where customers are simply making exclusive purchases; instead, engaged customers are supporting the company by buying more products and services and telling others to do the same. In short, the key to a successful business is engaged customers -- people who enthusiastically endorse what you do.

Unfortunately, many organizations fail to recognize how their own procedures create apathetic customers. For instance, many organizations suffer from a lack of consistency regarding customer contact. Nothing is more frustrating for a customer than having three different encounters with three different employees in three different ways over a single issue. It's easy to see how customers are willing to switch brands when faced with such poor customer service.

A customer-centric organization wouldn't expect its customers to navigate such complex communication structures. Customer-centric companies focus on the customer throughout everything they do. A CEM solution for such a problem would begin with getting feedback from customers to find out how they feel, ideally at the individual level and through statistically reliable market research. To do this you must identify the customer touch points within your organization and contact customers after an experience with these touch points to get their feedback. If you do this, you will have both individual customer feedback and begin to see larger trends and areas for focus. View your product or service as a real customer would. Don't generalize or stereotype; instead, recruit actual customer to help you accurately visualize your product. By doing this, you'll remove the focus from "the company" and put it on the customer--exactly where it needs to be.

Employee Engagement
Whether they realize it or not, customers make most of their decisions based on their emotions--how they're feeling at a given point in time--which is why employee engagement is a crucial ingredient in creating a customer-centric culture. If employees are engaged, their interactions with customers will be genuine, not coerced or forced. Customers recognize and are pleased with such sincere service. As such, one of the major factors in increasing customer engagement is employee engagement.

The first step to engaging employees is realizing that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every organization. Since every company's organizational culture is different, every company's employee engagement solution should look different as well. Your employees are unique, so your EEM solution should begin with asking staff about their experience at the organization and then incorporating a management solution that allows managers to take action to meet employee needs.

With an increase in employee engagement, you're likely to experience an increase in customer engagement. And with that, you'll no doubt enjoy success.

~Monica Nolan, 2009

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Monica Nolan is an Account Manager for PeopleMetrics.
The strongest customer engagement management solutions are based in strong, actionable information. Contact PeopleMetrics to discuss improving customer satisfaction using a CEM.

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