Customer orientation? What exactly is that?
Customer orientation means nothing more than regularly monitoring the company, recording and analysing customer wishes and needs as well as expectations. This information helps to implement and systematically improve products and services. The long-term goal of customer orientation is to build and strengthen customer relationships. Consequently, customer-oriented work must be implemented in companies in order to meet customer requirements and achieve the goal.
Not all companies work customer-oriented
As beautiful as the approach of customer-oriented work is, unfortunately not many companies pursue it. Not because they don’t want to, but because they have a wrong understanding of the term customer orientation. This is particularly important when it comes to winning and retaining customers. We would like to bring a little light into the darkness and show you where companies are struggling and how customer-oriented work can really be achieved.
All customers are the same?
One of the big mistakes companies make is to put all customers in the same drawer. To reduce all their needs to one common one. Customer A and B both want X or Y. No two customers are the same and all customers do not want the same thing. Each customer has a different problem for which they expect a solution from the company.
Individuality displaces the masses
Companies should accept that they should not use the watering can to advertise their products and services – in the hope of reaching the complete drawer. Rather, it should become clear that each customer represents a certain value for the company. The more valuable it is, the more time and energy should be invested in this customer. Answer the question for yourself: are you investing in a customer who made a one-time purchase from you three months ago or are you investing in a returning customer?
Several departments – several approaches
Customer orientation should be represented as a guideline in every department of a company. But unfortunately this is not the case. Often several departments pursue different approaches and strategies. This leads to the fact that customer-oriented work is just too impossible. In addition, it confuses customers if, for example, marketing and sales communicate and act differently. In the worst case this leads to cancellations or potential new customers jump off right at the beginning of their customer journey. It is therefore all the more important that every employee in every department is aware of what customer-oriented work in the company means and what common goals should be pursued. A strategy that is valid for all departments.
Information flow in the company for success
Success will come when information is shared. For example, a customer is not satisfied with a function and tells Customer Service or Sales. This statement is then immediately forwarded to the development team. The company therefore knows at every point where there is room for improvement. At the same time, the customer feels taken seriously and sees that his opinion counts.
Sales figures are not everything
In the past and still common in many companies, sales figures are the indicator for success or failure. But sales figures are not everything. Other numbers, e.g. individual customer value, how many existing and new customers are no less important. Companies would do well to include these.
The focus here is primarily on the respective customer value. This example makes this particularly clear: a product is bought once by one million customers and then never again. The one million customers sound great at first, but then disillusionment and disappointment will follow. This mayfly generates no further sales and therefore no further turnover. A product, however, which is bought by fewer customers and therefore again and again, is crowned with success in the long run.
The streaming service Netflix, for example, follows this approach. It is not about getting as many customers as possible to watch series and films. No, Netflix wants to provide its customers with exactly what they really want to watch. This is where the approach already mentioned in the second paragraph becomes apparent, namely to see the customer as a single individual with personal needs and to do less justice to the broad masses.
Communicating customer orientation to external partners as well
If a company works in a customer-oriented manner and has anchored it in all departments, the only thing missing is external partners who should also understand and take these approaches to heart. A fact that is gladly forgotten. External means far away and therefore it is not uncommon for companies to literally lose sight of this. In short: customer-oriented work only works as soon as all internal and external persons responsible and involved live it.