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Ultimate guide to customer focus in 2024

Improving your customer focus starts by deepening your understanding of what customer focus means and building an effective customer focus strategy.

Por Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Última actualización en April 23, 2024

Customers have endless options at their fingertips, making customer expectations higher than ever before. They’re comparing interactions with your brand to the fast, easy, and personalized experiences they’re having with the best of the best.

These customer-focused businesses set themselves apart with a competitive advantage, continuously building loyal customers and brand champions. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024, 45 percent of customer experience (CX) leaders indicate the impact of CX on customer loyalty as extremely high.

Read our guide to deepen your understanding of what customer focus means and learn tips for building an effective customer focus strategy so you can be better than the best of the best.

More in this guide:

What is customer focus, and why is it important?

Customer focus is a strategy that puts your customers’ needs first. Customer-focused businesses foster a company culture dedicated to enhancing customer satisfaction and building strong customer relationships.

“Customer focus is the lens by which you analyze all your interactions with your customers,” says Dr. Jon Brummel, senior principal customer experience manager at Zendesk. “It’s a core value to who you want to be as a company and how you want your customers to feel about you.”

A lack of customer focus can lead to customer churn. The Zendesk CX Trends Report revealed that 57 percent of customers would switch to a company’s competitor due to a single bad customer experience–a trend that’s grown by 5 percentage points each year. On the flip side, customer focus can boost the bottom line, with 42 percent of CX leaders reporting that the impact of CX on business growth is extremely high.

3 examples of customer focus

Even after building an effective customer-focused strategy, becoming a customer-focused business doesn’t happen overnight. It takes practice and continuous adjustment to get it right. Here are a few examples of how to become a customer-focused company from three businesses that do it best.

1. Zappos

Zappos consistently tops the lists of companies that deliver top-tier customer experiences. To show that customer experience matters across the business, Zappos’ business model connects the organization through customer-centric values. For example, Zappos offers an easy and convenient return service that allows customers to drop off returns at Whole Foods stores without needing a box or label.

“Being a customer-first company is in Zappos’ DNA,” says Zappos CEO Scott Schaefer. He adds, “As our customers’ needs evolve, we evolve with them to ensure we’re exceeding expectations and delivering ‘Wow’ at every step.”

2. Four Seasons

Four Seasons redefined luxury with its white-glove customer service based on building real, human relationships with customers. By partnering with Zendesk, the hotel and resort company provides guests with seamless, conversational support in their native language via 10 distinct channels, including social media channels like X (formerly Twitter), Messenger, or SMS. The unified messaging and digital concierge experience allows customers to conveniently arrange spa reservations, get restaurant recommendations, and access special services.

3. Rentman

Rentman offers scalable event and media rental solutions that empower crews, equipment, and rental managers to work more productively. Rentman aligns its culture around customer focus and customer expectations, emphasizing the importance of seamless communication to meet customer needs and ensure long-term success.

By incorporating feedback from internal teams and customers, Rentman maintains high customer satisfaction levels, with support consistently rated above 93 percent and an average initial response time of 60 to 70 minutes. By implementing Zendesk QA, AI-powered QA software, Rentman can gather valuable insights into customer sentiment and agent performance, enabling quick action and informed decision-making.

Enhance your customer focus with the latest CX trends

Check out the newest trends in CX and use this valuable information to create more customer-focused interactions. From providing instant, personalized service to ensuring safe, trustworthy experiences, our free CX Trends Report helps you focus on what’s important: the customer.

How to improve your customer focus strategy

Seven icons accompany a list of tips for improving your customer focus strategy.

There are two levels to building an effective customer focus strategy: an emotional level and an operational level. A great customer-focused strategy enables you to develop genuine, honest, and transparent relationships with new customers and strengthen existing ones. It also guides you in implementing the right tools and processes to do so. Here are seven tips to keep both relationship management and process improvement top of mind:

1. Leverage AI to meet customers’ needs

Customer-focused businesses aren’t just reactive to what their customers need—they also proactively meet their expectations and deliver positive experiences consistently. This is where AI can help.

Zendesk AI, for example, is built to be customer-focused—our technology is pre-trained on billions of customer service interactions. It understands customer experience, which means you can quickly unlock the power of fast, personalized support—without any extra work or expenses. Our bots, or AI agents, can proactively make personalized recommendations based on a customer’s preferences, website behavior, previous conversations, and more. They can also proactively reach out to customers to see if they have any questions while browsing your website.

Additionally, agents can leverage AI and automation to streamline workflows and intelligently route and escalate priority tickets for prompt support. Plus, generative AI tools in the agent workspace can summarize tickets to get agents up to speed quickly and provide guidance on how to approach interactions for faster responses.

2. Focus on service quality

Delivering quality customer service with every interaction is the cornerstone of customer focus. Auto QA tools, like Zendesk QA, can evaluate and score 100 percent of customer interactions across all channels. That provides quality assurance teams with valuable insights—metrics, outliers, churn risks, escalations, top and low-performing agents, and knowledge gaps—to continuously improve for exceptional, customer-focused experiences.

3. Make your customers feel heard

Behind every customer is a story. However, repeating that story multiple times during every customer interaction leads to a bad experience. If customers feel ignored because they have to repeat themselves, they won’t be likely to remember your company as customer-focused.

“Making the customer feel heard is a huge part of customer focus,” says Brummel. “And when they don’t feel heard, that’s when the experience can quickly go south.”

Imagine having to reintroduce yourself to a coworker every time you see them in the office kitchen and remind them of what you last spoke about. It’s neither personal nor customer-focused, but that’s often how businesses communicate with their customers.

To ensure customers feel heard, businesses will need to provide support teams with a unified agent workspace—like Zendesk. This gives agents the relevant context and conversation history they need to provide the personalized experiences customers expect.

4. Meet your customers where they are

It might seem easier to focus on a single communication channel for customer support. But communicating according to your customers’ channels of choice is a powerful driver of customer loyalty, according to Zendesk research.

The data is clear: Customers who need support want an effortless, convenient experience on their channel of choice. Customer-focused companies meet their customers where they are, allowing them to connect with your support teams however and whenever they want.

Looking into customer demographics and considering the types of questions you see most often can be eye-opening. Industry best practices might tell you to offer a particular channel. However, a significant amount of your customer base might prefer a mobile-first option. You might consider adding WhatsApp for Business, SMS, or another mobile messaging channel because that’s where your customers are.

Again, that 360-degree view of the customer will be important for connecting conversations across channels. It ensures context moves with the customer. This helps your business to provide fast and personal responses no matter when or how they reach out.

5. Use feedback to get better

Knowing how to gather customer feedback and implement it is another important factor in becoming a customer-focused company. Successful customer-focused companies amplify the voice of the customer (VoC) and use consumer feedback to create a better experience.

This might include:

Creating a feedback loop with your customers strengthens relationships with existing customers and increases customer engagement.

“Treating customers like partners and collaborators as opposed to consumers of your [goods] is one of the first steps to creating a customer-focused culture,” says Brummel.

6. Combine data with empathy

With the increasing amount of data available, businesses no longer need to guess what their customers want. Instead, they can use reporting tools to analyze customer service metrics to identify trends and patterns and proactively prevent customer churn.

But taking a customer-focused approach to data doesn’t mean using data blindly. Rather, it involves combining data with empathy. This means:

  • Adding context to data
  • Applying data compassionately
  • Being transparent with the customer about what data you keep, how you use it, and how you keep it safe

For instance, your product team might align a product update with customer support data to ensure change is relevant to those it impacts. Additionally, you can ensure the data used for the product update is secure with encryption keys, data masking, and limited, authorized access.

But data silos often prevent businesses from using it in a way that truly benefits the customer—that’s because they lack the full context to do so. For starters, you must connect insights across systems and software to manage and interpret your data effectively.

7. Support the teams that support customers

Support agents interact with your customers and directly impact their experience with your business. An unhappy or overwhelmed agent isn’t in the best position to deliver a great customer experience.

The risk of employee burnout can be high in customer service roles. To combat this, businesses can support their customer service teams by arming them with robust, intuitive tools or leveraging AI and automation to make their daily tasks easier. Empowering agents to do their jobs well results in better, customer-focused experiences.

Building a customer-focused culture

Customer focus isn’t a responsibility that falls only on customer support or any single team. While customer service skills are key to customer focus, customer-focused companies show that the customer experience matters across the organization at every step of the customer journey.

When businesses become more customer-focused, they become a more human brand driven by relationships rather than profits or requirements. If you’re looking to improve customer loyalty, try adjusting your focus to the customer with the right customer service software—you might surprise yourself with what you can accomplish with a simple change in mindset.

Net Promoter, Net Promoter Score, and NPS are trademarks of NICE Satmetrix, Inc., Bain & Company, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

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