Ugh, remember that time you got stuck in chatbot limbo trying to get a product or support for a service you’ve been excited about or waiting to use for some time? Perhaps you were addressing a problem with a bill, jumping through hoops to cancel a subscription, or trying to get help to get you on your way.

Remember the stress? The hassle? The unsolved problem or waiting times that could have been costing you hours or dollars?

No one wants to feel like a ticket number.

Now, imagine calling a company and having a friendly person solve your problem and go the extra mile to make you feel like they care.

Which would you rather your company be? Which would your customers rather you be?

That’s what having a customer-centric culture is all about.

See, “customer-centric” isn’t just some corporate mumbo-jumbo. It’s the secret sauce that makes customers stick around and tell their friends how great you are.

It’s about ensuring that everyone in your company—from marketing to sales to the people who answer the phones—understands that happy customers keep the lights on.

This three-part guide will deep dive into everything you need to know on how to make that happen, starting with adjusting your company and systems, then looking at your customers, and finally, dealing with the individual interactions as they occur.

Let’s get into it.

Part 1: Start With a Strong Foundation

An office team having a meeting about customer serviceSource

Think of your customer-centric culture as being like a house. You can’t have fancy decorations or a great paint job if the foundation is cracked. Here’s where it all begins:

1.) Company-wide Mission: Make Customer Happiness Your True North

A mission statement that just collects dust on the office wall isn’t doing anyone any good. Your company’s mission needs to scream, “We are obsessed with making our customers happy!” Why?

Because when every single person in the company understands that’s the ultimate goal, their decisions start to change.

For example, let’s say your mission is to “revolutionize the widget industry.” Okay, cool. But how does that help your customers?

Now, if your mission is “to make using widgets so easy and awesome that people can’t imagine life without them,”… that changes everything!

2.) Hire for Empathy: It’s Not Just About Skills, It’s About Heart

A black and white banner that says “we hear you”

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Consider two customer service reps: One who follows the script perfectly but sounds bored.

And one who maybe messes up a little, but you can tell they really care about getting you the help you need. Who are you going to remember?

That’s why hiring for empathy is just as important as hiring for skills (sometimes more so!). Here’s how to find those gems:

  • Interview Questions That Matter: Instead of just asking, “Tell me about a time you solved a customer’s problem,” dig deeper. Ask, “What were you feeling when that customer was frustrated?”
  • Training That’s Human: Don’t just teach people the return policy. Use role-playing and real-life scenarios to help them understand what it feels like to be the customer on the other side of the phone.

Prioritizing qualities like patience and genuine care means customers feel heard and understood.

And the key takeaway here is that empathy is contagious. When your employees feel supported and empowered to go the extra mile, customers feel it, too. It’s a win for everyone involved.

3.) Empower Employees: Let Them Be the Heroes

A female customer support rep smiling while on the phone to a customer

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Imagine needing help and getting told, “Sorry, my manager has to approve that.” Ugh! How powerless can you make an employee feel by literally having them answer phones and emails, but not be able actually to fix any problems or make a customer happy?

Instead, to truly make customers happy, employees need the freedom to actually fix problems. They need to be able to help in the here and now, and feel liberated in doing so. Their success will rub off on customers, and then everybody wins.

  • Ditch the Red Tape: Give your team guidelines, of course, but let them make the smart judgment calls that get customers smiling.
  • Knowledge is Power: Are your employees constantly hunting for information to help customers? Make sure they have updated databases, easy ways to contact other departments, etc.
  • Celebrate Great Ideas: Did an employee come up with a clever workaround that made a customer’s day? Share it! This shows that innovation is valued, not just following the rules.

Yes, this takes trust, but trusting your employees is a powerful message. It not only boosts customer satisfaction but shows your team that you believe in them.

And when you train people properly and put the right people in the right places, that’s a recipe for company loyalty and customer loyalty.

Related Reading:

Part 2: Know Your Audience Deeply

A business team having a meeting about who their audience is

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Think about planning a surprise party for a stranger. It’s bound to be a mess! The same principle applies to customer service. To truly impress your customers, you need to understand them on a deeper level. Here’s how:

4.) Customer Personas: More Than Just Names and Numbers

Think of customer personas as super-detailed character bios. Yes, demographics matter (age, location, etc.). But the juicy stuff is about their goals, frustrations, and how they like to communicate.

For example, “Marketing Mary” is 32, runs a small biz, and hates long phone calls. “Retired Bob” is 75 and prefers a friendly chat to solve his tech problems.

Same company, with totally different needs. You must be proactive in catering for both. The better you can fit a customer’s needs individually, the better the experience they’ll have and the happier they’ll be. They’ll then be more likely to stick around, use you again, and become a loyal, advocating customer for years to come.

Some things to think about:

  • Industry Matters: B2B customers have different priorities than individual consumers. Tailor your personas accordingly. CMS gets this, which means their services feel personalized, not one-size-fits-all.
  • Map the Journey: Where do customers interact with your company? Website, phone, social media? Identifying those touchpoints helps you spot opportunities to personalize the experience and avoid annoying hiccups.

And here’s an actionable takeaway for you to go away and do.

If you don’t have customer personas, start building them! Surveys, interviews, and even looking at social media comments can give you fantastic insights. You can even use platforms like ChatGPT to quickly build templates and flesh out ideas to get you started.

5.) Collect Feedback Regularly

Graphic with a post-it note that reads

Think of customer feedback as a superpower. It tells you exactly what people love (do more of that!) and what drives them nuts (fix that ASAP!). Here’s how to get the good stuff:

  • Surveys & NPS: The Classics: Yes, they still matter! Short, targeted surveys tell you if people are happy overall and where they might get frustrated. NPS scores track loyalty over time, which is super important.
  • Make It Easy: No one wants to write an essay to give feedback. Use multiple-choice questions and star ratings, and open a “comments” box for anything else.
  • Every Channel Counts: Get feedback on where your customers already are. A quick pop-up on your website, a social media poll, or just asking for feedback at the end of a call – it all adds up!

Feedback isn’t about finding someone to blame. It’s about making your business better, which benefits both you and your customers in the long run!

Drop your ego as a company, get humbled, and work to be better. Your customers (and your employees) will tell you everything they want and need if you just take the time to hear them.

And they’ll feel heard, valued, and a part of your business, so there are a lot of wins here!

6.) Use Data Analysis

Hand in hand with using feedback, we live in the age of data, so use it. Think of all those surveys and comments as a treasure map. The “X” marks the spot where you can make the biggest improvements!

Sure, you might not have the resources to work on everything right here and now, but by using data, you can find the most important bottlenecks and make things better. For example, find that people are complaining about customer support wait times.

Check the data, see the average resolution time, set a goal and create a make it better, and execute.

Here’s how to decode the data:

  • Find the Patterns: Are lots of customers getting stuck in the same spot on your website? Having the same problem with a product? This tells you where to focus your efforts.
  • The Power of Analytics: Modern tools can do amazing things, like showing you which channels get the best response rates or even the specific words customers use when they’re frustrated. This is pure gold!

Companies that genuinely excel use data to get ahead of the curve. They don’t just fix problems; they predict them…which feels like magic to customers! That’s why, in a global study, 90% of businesses say that data is “of increasing importance in their overall business.”

Collecting feedback is only half the battle. Analyzing it regularly ensures those insights actually do something to make the customer experience even better.

Related Reading:

Part 3: Make Every Interaction Matter

Smiling customer service rep on a customer call

Customers expect businesses to be available on their terms. It’s not about forcing everyone into the same phone queue anymore – it’s about giving people choices and making each interaction awesome, no matter where it happens.

7.) Provide Omnichannel Support

Think about how you like to get help. Some days, it’s a quick DM; other days, you need to pick up the phone. Your customers are the same! That’s why omnichannel support is a game-changer:

  • Meet Them On Their Turf: Are most of your customers on Facebook? Have live chat! Older demographic? Make sure your phone system is top-notch. It’s about removing barriers, not creating them.
  • Consistency is Key: Imagine calling a company and having to explain the same problem you just emailed about. Ugh! Omnichannel means your team can see the customer’s whole history, no matter how they get in touch.

Omnichannel isn’t just about having lots of contact options; it’s about making the experience seamless for the customer. Moreover, Google found that omnichannel customers have a 30% higher value than those shopping through one, so bear that in mind.

That’s how you build loyalty!

8.) Personal Touch

We’ve all been stuck in the chatbot loop of doom, right? Personalization is the antidote to that! It shows customers you see them as humans, not just tickets. Here’s how to nail it:

  • Ditch the Robots (Sometimes): Yes, chatbots have their place, but for complex problems, nothing beats a real person. Live answering services send the message “We care enough to have real people ready to help”. Find a balance that works for your business.
  • No More Scripts: Give your team the freedom to have actual conversations, not just recite the same FAQ over and over. This builds trust fast!
  • Names Matter: Does your CRM let you save customer info? Use it! Addressing a customer by name, even in an email, makes a big difference.

Don’t underestimate how important this is. 90% of marketers found that personalization increased their ROI and the stats show that 76% of customers prefer spending with a brand that personalizes their user experience.

TLDR: a little personalization goes a long way. By prioritizing real human interaction and tailored responses, they create customer experiences that stand out in a crowded market.

9.) Exceed Expectations Every Time

Fixing a customer’s problem is the bare minimum. To really build loyalty, you need to find ways to surprise and delight them! Here’s how:

  • Be a Mind Reader (Kind Of): The better you understand your customers (see Part 2!), the easier it is to guess what they might need next. Did they just buy a product? Send them a quick how-to video to make sure they get the most out of it.
  • The Little Things Matter: Doesn’t have to be fancy! A handwritten thank-you note, remembering a customer’s birthday, or just taking the time to explain something clearly can make someone’s day.
  • Empower Your Team: Give your employees the freedom to go the extra mile. Maybe it’s waiving a small fee or throwing in a freebie with an order. This shows customers (and your team!) that you trust them to make good decisions.

Exceeding expectations isn’t just about making customers happy in the moment; it’s about creating stories they’ll tell their friends. That’s the best marketing you can’t buy.

10.) Anticipate Needs

A business team planning to anticipate the needs of their customers

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Imagine if you could solve your customers’ problems before they even knew they had them… that’s the power of anticipating needs! Here’s how to make it happen:

  • Data is Your Magic Wand: Purchase history, website behavior, even notes from previous calls – these are clues to what a customer might need next. Use your CRM to track this info!
  • Proactive is the New Reactive: Instead of waiting for customers to complain, reach out with solutions. Expiring subscription? Send a reminder! New product that perfectly complements their last purchase? Let them know!
  • Make It Personal: Generic recommendations are boring. Tailor your suggestions based on what you know about the customer. This shows you’re paying attention, not just spamming.

Companies that nail this provide an almost magical experience. They don’t just solve problems; they prevent them – which feels amazing to the customer because anticipating needs builds trust like nothing else.

It shows customers you’re not just there to take their money; you’re there to make their lives easier, and that’s what modern business is all about.

11.) Build a Community

Think of your brand community as a super-fun party where everyone knows each other and feels welcome. It’s a place for customers to connect, get help, brag about their awesome experiences…and bring their friends! Here’s why it matters:

  • Loyalty on Steroids: Reward programs are cool, but a true community is about belonging. When customers feel like they’re part of something special, they’re way less likely to jump ship to a competitor.
  • Built-In Feedback Loop: A thriving community is a goldmine of insights! People will tell you what they love, what’s confusing, and what new features they’re dying for.
  • Free Marketing: Happy community members become your most passionate advocates. They’ll write reviews, share on social media, and do your marketing for you!

Companies with strong communities have a secret weapon. You only need to look at YouTube channels and live streamers to see how effective the work of the community can be. Therefore, you’re not just selling products; you’re building a tribe of people who truly believe in the brand.

And yes, building a community takes effort, but the payoff is huge. It’s the difference between having customers and having superfans.

12.) Show Gratitude

Think about a time someone went out of their way to say a genuine “thank you.” It feels good, right? That’s the power of gratitude with customers! Here’s how to do it right:

  • Show You Care: A generic “thanks for your business” email gets deleted. Mention their name, a specific interaction, or something you know they like. This shows you’re paying attention!
  • It’s Not Just About Big Spenders: Sure, thank your VIPs, but also find ways to recognize loyal customers even if they don’t buy a ton. A shout-out on social media or a quick “thinking of you” note can mean the world.
  • Surprise & Delight: Unexpected acts of gratitude are the best kind! A small gift, a special discount, or even just a fun social media post tagging loyal customers.

Understand that gratitude isn’t just a nice thing to do; it’s good business. By making customers feel truly valued, they build relationships that go far beyond a single transaction.

Even a simple “thank you” reminds customers that they’re not just a dollar sign to you. It builds trust and makes them more likely to recommend you to their friends and family.

Related Reading:

Conclusion

We’ve covered a lot of ground! By now, you should understand why being customer-centric isn’t just a buzzword, but the key to a thriving business. It’s about every decision you make, from the people you hire to how you resolve issues.

Building a genuinely customer-focused company takes time, but if you’re ready to prioritize those relationships, the results are totally worth the effort.

Need help making it happen? 

Here at CMS, we specialize in helping businesses create the kind of top-notch customer experiences that bring people back again and again.

As a 24/7 answering service and provider of comprehensive call center solutions, including customer service outsourcing, mass notification systems, and IVR systems, we have the expertise to support your journey toward a customer-centric culture.

Feel free to contact our sales team to learn more about how we can tailor our services to meet your unique needs and help you achieve your customer service goals.

By Last Updated: June 23, 2024Categories: Blog14.5 min read