13 Ways to be a customer-driven company

customer-driven
Most business leaders understand that focusing on customer needs plays a key role in whether a product soars or falls flat. And while choosing the right tools, like customer service software, can help the team working the phones and answering user emails, that's just part of the picture. Becoming a true customer-driven business means taking a unified approach that includes marketing and product teams, as well. Here are thirteen ways you can make your company more customer-driven.

1. Understand how your customers want to talk to you—and give them choices.

If there’s a mantra your company should focus on, it’s this: go where your customers are—don’t make them come to you. Maybe your customers prefer to reach out via email, a channel that tends to have longer resolution times and higher touch rates. Be sure to optimize that channel, but also reward users for selecting efficient channels such as chat and self-service. And if they still choose a less efficient channel, ask whether your company has failed to deliver a coherent message about the alternatives.

2. You don’t like to wait, and neither do your customers.

This is where customer service software flexes its muscles—while most companies understand that customers want timely help, they’re often in the dark about why support SLA times aren’t being met. Use your customer service software to analyze where the bottlenecks are happening and to manage the ticket queue more efficiently.

3. Break down silos between teams.

Silos get in the way of everyone’s common goal, which is providing a top-notch customer experience at a cost that won’t hurt the bottom line. But silos can be stubborn things, so a truly customer-driven organization must set company-wide customer satisfaction goals that are rooted in measurable data. Share that data across teams and evaluate not only how your company is doing but whether you’re measuring the correct information.

4. Choose customer service software that unifies your service and pulls data from multiple sources.

Whether it’s your sales team working in Salesforce or engineers resolving issues in Jira, you need something that can integrate seamlessly with those essential tools. If your sales team can't see the tickets, they’ll go into meetings blind. It’s much harder to close a deal when your customer is steamed about recent outages.

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5. Constantly ask customers for feedback (and really listen).

This goes far beyond simply sending surveys—your company must show tangible improvements to your product or service. (And remember: there is such a thing as too many surveys.) In the end, getting into that “partner space” will reap greater benefits than delivering on your very next improvement.

6. Get engineers and product managers directly involved with customer support.

There is a clear benefit to having software engineers and product managers shadow your agents on customer-support tickets. While it might be tempting to look at this exercise as taking away from valuable coding time, it will help product teams develop better use cases and roadmaps that reflect what your customers need. And consider appointing a liaison betweens your support and product teams to improve the flow of information.

7. Ask for consumers for feedback before settling on your product requirements.

Although surveys can be helpful, think about other ways you can gather user feedback—get involved in online communities and reward active members (like those who have requested a specific feature) with keys to alpha and beta tests, company swag, and more.

8. If your customers leave, ask why—and then take action.

You can’t please everyone (though you should really try). If you’re not sending churn surveys to former customers, you’re missing an opportunity to be a customer-centric organization. Identify common trends and ensure that your product roadmap addresses those issues.

9. Get your market segmentation down cold.

Your company’s marketing team should be creating user personas via surveys, focus groups, and using customer data to get a deep understanding of the customer journey. At every given opportunity, talk to the people who comprise your user base and understand what motivates them.

10. Establish a clear, consistent voice for your customer-driven marketing strategy.

Jargon is your enemy. Employ clear, consistent language in your marketing strategy, and avoid trash talking your competitors. Doing so will make your company seem less trustworthy and hurt you in the long term.

11. Create a marketing strategy that sets your organization apart.

That strategy should be rooted in your company’s values and a solid understanding of the market. Identify user expectations and product areas your competition has neglected—and be ready to capitalize on those missed opportunities. A thoughtful, customer-driven marketing plan will help you gain (and retain) your competitive advantage.

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12. Engage on social media, ask for feedback, and track your NPS score.

Your social media strategy will need to vary depending on the platform. For example, Twitter can be great for posting news, content, and service outages, but you’ll want to treat Facebook differently (say, as a venue for humanizing your company by showing employees at work and play).

13. Reward customers for their loyalty.

Power users and product evangelists have a lot to say. Reward them by inviting them to special events and then listen to them talk about the challenges they face. By going that extra mile to show your appreciation, you’ll take another step toward being a true customer-driven business.