By Jared Atchison, co-founder of WPForms

Your customers are the most important part of your business. It's their feedback, interest and needs that drive sales, promote products and further brand reach.  If you provide poor customer experiences and don't match audience expectations, it'll be challenging to build a loyal, repeat customer base

As reported by Harvard Business Review last year, only 14 percent of marketers say that customer-centricity is part of their business strategy. Many companies choose to take a product-first approach, which neglects customers and puts the focus on sales. 

Building a customer-focused strategy means the customer and their needs come first as a way to reach brand goals and grow your business. Important decisions begin and end with the customer based on how it benefits them and offers them value. Rather than making moves based on sales or growth, the focus is on customer satisfaction.

If you want to create a customer-centric business strategy, here are a few ways to get started.

Make it part of your company culture.

If customer-centricity isn't a fundamental aspect spread across all areas of your brand, then you aren't a customer-focused business. Even if you implement it in one or two areas, that still isn't enough to cater to customers to your full potential. Customer-focused practices should permeate through every department and employee and starts with orientation and onboarding.

Create a customer-centered culture by implementing it from the beginning. When your whole team adopts these values and uses actions to show what your company values, it's easier to carry out this strategy and do so authentically. Each member of your team impacts the type of culture your company adopts, so everyone must be on the same page.

Include these values in the onboarding process. Even better, write in your job posting that you're a company seeking employees who will embrace a customer-focused culture. That way, you can weed out applicants who are more sales-driven and prefer to take that approach.

Track customer-focused metrics.

How can you determine how well your strategy caters to customers if you have nothing to measure it by? It's crucial to track specific metrics so you can refine your strategy as needed and continue implementing those values into your business. Without measurable data to analyze, it'll prove difficult to maintain a customer-centric culture. 

Consider what metrics you're going to track. These may include:

  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): This measures how much a person will spend on your business as long as they're a paying customer. Since it costs more to acquire new customers than retain them, it helps you increase the value of existing customers. 
  • Customer equity: This is the total value of all of the new customer relationships created in a specific period. 
  • CLV by channel: This tracks customer lifetime value through various channels, such as social media or paid advertising, since each result will differ. It's essential to analyze how each channel affects your growth based on what type of customers it attracts to your brand.
  • Net promoter score: This measures customer loyalty over time by gauging how willing they are to recommend your brand to others. It helps businesses indicate overall customer satisfaction to see where they stand with their audience.

View customers as the solution.

Many businesses view their customers as part of the problem rather than the solution. However, if you aren't meeting your goals and key performance indicators (KPIs), that means something is lacking in your strategy. It also means your brand fails to meet customer expectations. So, how exactly are they the problem?

Start viewing your customers as the solution to your problems rather than the problem. Make them part of the solution in your strategy to get the results you want. 

Collect customer feedback to tackle existing issues and determine pain points your brand can solve. Consistent communication is vital to get to the root of their problems and present action-based solutions. This shows that your company is proactive about solving customer issues and cares about their satisfaction.

There are several ways to collect customer feedback:

  • Provide live chat support.
  • Send a customer satisfaction survey.
  • Post feedback forms on your website.
  • Ask for feedback on social media.
  • Email subscribers a questionnaire.

Whatever methods you choose, make sure to mention that your goal is to improve the customer experience, as this could encourage more people to respond.

It's your turn.

With so much competition out there, it's easier for your brand to stand out from the rest by implementing a customer-focused strategy. This ensures that the customer comes first so you build a loyal customer base that's happy to continue a relationship with your business. 

Jared Atchison is the co-founder of WPForms, a drag & drop form builder for WordPress that's being used on over 400,000 websites.

Published on: Sep 20, 2019
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.