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Podcast 2 min read

The customer-first strategy: Why it’s crucial to your business

What does it mean to put your customers first, and how can your business actually achieve that? In this panel discussion recorded at Relate 2023, Conversations with Zendesk podcast host Nicole Saunders explored this challenge with visionary business leaders from Medline Industries, Honeywell, Dandelion Payments, and Zendesk.

By Mark Smith, Staff Writer

Last updated April 29, 2024

No matter which industry you’re in, your business will always face competition for customers—and when market forces turn into headwinds, keeping your most valuable assets can be especially challenging. That’s why embracing a customer-first strategy is essential.

Yet adopting a customer-first strategy comes with a set of challenges that must be navigated with forethought and a commitment to execution. In this third episode of the Conversations with Zendesk podcast—recorded during Relate 2023—host Nicole Saunders consulted a panel of experts who are well-versed in making consumers the central focus of their companies’ operations:

  • Sarah Bernhardi, Chief Customer Officer at Dandelion Payments,, and Ria Money Transfer
  • William Abrams, Division President, Distributed Products Division at Medline Industries
  • Danielle N. Evans, Chief Information Officer at Honeywell Connected Enterprise (HCE)
  • Teresa Anania, Senior Vice President of Global Customer Success, Renewals, and Customer Experience at Zendesk
  • Cait Keohane, Senior Vice President of Global Customer Advocacy at Zendesk

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“You’re ‘customer-first’ when your customer’s experience and their emotional attachment to your products become your company’s purpose,” said Keohane. But as Keohane pointed out, Gartner research indicates that despite 90 percent of companies capturing customer feedback, just 10 percent take action on that data—and only five percent communicate that to their customers.

Meanwhile, even if your business makes it a point to capture customer feedback and act on it, Abrams noted that having a customer-first strategy in place also means having the courage to convey uncomfortable information to consumers. While it might be unpleasant for the business, Abrams argued that telling the unvarnished truth about a company failure will engender trust. “Customers respect transparency and even brutal honesty when needed,” he said.

Be sure to tune into the next episode of Conversations with Zendesk on June 28 when Saunders sits down with Zendesk’s expert on AI, Cristina Fonseca, to explore the ways this disruptive technology will improve the customer experience for both agents and consumers.

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