The key to success in today's highly
competitive marketplace is to adopt a customer oriented business
Simply speaking, customer orientation puts the customer at the
beginning, center and end of every transaction.
It shifts the company's focus from the product to
This approach also means the organization must have a deep
understanding of the customer's needs and expectations.
Furthermore, organizations must have the capability to deliver
the strategy throughout the various stages of the customer
From delivery driver to CEO, it is important that every employee
in the organization is completely committed to the strategy.
Everyone has an important part to
play when it comes to customer service and retention.
Here are ten steps to help you become customer oriented.
1. Create a customer value proposition (CVP). Decide at board
level the sum total of benefits which you as a vendor promise to
deliver to your customer, in
return for the customer's loyalty.
2. Recruit customer-friendly people. Hire for attitude, train
for skills is the mantra here. Empathy, good communication and
problem solving abilities are the qualities to
3. Treat your employees well. How your employees feel at work
has a much bigger impact on how they deal with customers than
any training will.
4. Train your team. Frontline as well as back-office staff must
gain a full understanding of the customer, product and industry
they support. Coaching must also
focus on the soft skills; communication and teamwork.
5. Walk the talk. Leaders must fully embrace the customer
service orientation process and take to the frontline from time
to time. Companies that value a
culture of servant leadership will excel in this area.
6. Implement a CORE program. CORE is an acronym for: Customer
Orientation, Referencing & Engagement. In this program
cross-functional teams focus on the
needs and behaviors of customers as well as internal
procedures. An orientation is built around customer needs and
the customer profile forms a reference
point for the business.
7. Listen to the Voice of the Customer (VOC). An honest
appraisal of how you are doing in the eyes of your customer is
critical. This can be achieved by
conducting a formal customer satisfaction survey or by gathering
and recording customer comments.
8. Define your standards. By analysing feedback obtained via
your VOC program you will be able to fine tune your service levels
according to customer needs and
expectations. Create a Balanced Scorecard to measure your
performance and rectify any shortcomings.
9. Empower your staff. Make sure your team has the authority to
resolve most customer complaints without further escalation to a
10. Co-ordinate functions. Avoid silo mentality by encouraging
different departments and functions to work closely together.
With vision and a well thought action plan your business can
join the growing number of customer-centric organizations that
are prospering despite the
Berlitz Language Schools is a good example of a customer-focused
company that declares its mission as Total Customer Orientation.
Other organizations such
as Ritz-Carlton, Zappos, Sothwest Airlines and Disney are
examples of companies that benefit from the customer-oriented
A well executed customer orientation strategy has the potential
to result in more sales, improved profitability and sustained