Company leaders understand that “getting closer to the customer” is crucial to growth.
Buyers and consumers have more choices than ever. Buyers can access online and mobile channels that provide more ways to buy, give and get recommendations, and talk back to companies.
Today’s customer won’t hesitate to walk away from an established company relationship that doesn’t meet their needs. This holds true for nearly all industries today, and is no longer limited to those serving consumers.
At BizLibrary, we see a strong customer focus as the precursor to customer success, and we believe customer success is “shared success.” It’s when clients look at you as a trusted partner to help deliver business results. When you can help the client deliver bottom line benefits – that will reflect right back to you in a variety of ways.
To truly adopt a customer focus mindset, the entire organization, including the clients, need to be transformed. We’ve found these seven best practices useful for transforming our own organization, and we think they can help you do the same with yours.
7 Steps to Achieving Customer Focus and Success
1. Executive Buy In
Like anything that is critical to be implemented across the organization, cultural shifts must start with the leadership team. It’s important to share benefits, concepts, and expected results of having a customer focus mentality.
2. Core Values
These should be simple to understand, memorize, and internalize, yet long enough to be meaningful. Your core values should cover how customers, employees, and vendors should be treated at all times.
3. Decision Making
Each and every decision must consider the customer. This is when you can see the shift in culture happening – when someone stops and asks about the impact to a customer. Considering the customer in big and small decisions keeps them at top of mind and ensures the correct decisions are being made.
When thinking of the customer first, sales reps are building better connections. Better connections mean stronger relationships and a stronger relationships mean more sales and a better customer lifetime value!
Check out our ebook for more insights on how training in soft skills such as decision making can lead to stronger sales.
4. Customer Success Team
Take time to evaluate your team. You might be reforming an existing team or building one from the ground up. You might need to break existing habits and develop new ones. A plan for training should be put in place to continue to build the skills of this team.
Keep reading to get a detailed look at steps for building your team with a customer focus mindset.
5. Hiring Processes
Ensure your hiring and interviewing processes are adopted to incorporate the customer success mentality. The core competencies of customer service, communication, and dedication to results should be considered. Take time to ensure each candidate is aligned with core values they’re supposed to reflect.
Include time in your onboarding plan for every employee to discuss customer success. Sharing and explaining what success looks like develops an inclusive understanding that everyone is working towards a common goal. Take time to incorporate in the training how their role contributes to the success of the customer.
7. Checks and Balances
To ensure the changes and modifications you’re putting in place are having positive impact, it’s important to have data and feedback from the clients on a regular basis. Consider sending out an NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey, developing a client advisory board, or asking for feedback consistently. When receiving data and feedback, take time to evaluate and respond carefully.
Building Your Customer Success Team
Customer success team structures can vary wildly from organization to organization depending on products, client base, and overall revenues.
In today’s highly competitive environment, successful organizations have dedicated teams focused on customers. These teams build relationships, add value, increase satisfaction, serve as internal client advocates, and ultimately help their clients reach successful business outcomes.
At BizLibrary, we’ve worked hard to build a proactive, highly supportive client success model, and we want to share what we’ve learned in key areas of team structure, creating job descriptions, recruiting candidates, interviewing processes, and what to look for with onboarding and training.
In the past, we’ve experimented with a variety of team structures. Our first few tries weren’t quite right, but since we value the freedom to fail here, we allowed those stumbles to lead us toward better options. You may have to try a few things before you get things right for your team, but here’s what our current structure looks like, which is working very well.
The two key business challenges facing our team are the need for mastery of diverse skills necessary to work with the client, and scalability.
Every client at BizLibrary has a dedicated Client Success Manager, who helps them develop strategies and goals, implement our solutions, execute planned strategies on an ongoing basis, and evaluate results. Those managers are supported by Directors to ensure they have all the tools and knowledge they need to help our customers succeed.
Other vital parts of the team structure are Implementation and Technical Support. Everyone interacting with the client contributes to their success in different but integral ways.
Once the team structure is in place, you need to write job descriptions. There are many ways to approach job descriptions, but we choose to be specific and elaborate within descriptions as a way to establish clear expectations.
When writing a job description for recruiting purposes, we convert the job description and requirements to include “scientific statements” – meaning that the candidate can prove what I am asking of them. For example, a recruiting statement might be, “has effectively managed 50+ accounts with monthly contact.”
When recruiting candidates, we promote from within the company through an active development program. We also target existing customers for referrals, and we source from vendors, direct or indirect competition. But no matter the source, the candidate must have a record of success in previous customer-facing roles.
We also look for individuals that have a strong online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter, and other outlets. This gives us a chance to view how they work, what they take pride in, and what they view as success.
Through a process of trial and error, we’ve made a series of continuing improvements to our interview process. Although every organization should have a tailored approach to interviewing, these are elements we’ve included that could work well for you when adding members to your customer success team.
- Short phone screen to gauge interest and cultural fit
- Face-to-face interview to validate resume, previous work history, and skills match
- Phone interview covering behavioral and scenario-based questions
- Online assessments covering IQ and 360-competency evaluation
- Panel interview following top grading processes
- 90-minute live shadowing to allow for full exposure to position and live call monitoring
- Final face-to-face interview to address final concerns and candidate questions
Skills to Look For
There are key traits and skills we typically look for and seek validation of during the recruiting and interviewing process.
- Strong personality: an optimistic and positive attitude is everything
- Passionate about customer success: we need to hear that candidates are motivated by the success of others
- Curiosity: must have someone that is naturally curious and willing to learn
- Strong organizational skills: must be displayed and tested
- Farmer mentality: clearly understand how relationships are built and a willingness to be an advocate for their customers
- Metric driven: need someone that is goal-oriented and focused on results
Regardless of specific roles, all members of your customer success team should receive training during onboarding that covers products/services, processes, and people:
- Products/Services: what do we offer and how does it impact and help customers?
- Processes: what do we follow internally, how do we work, and what makes us unique?
- People: this covers all roles and departments in the company – how do we all work together to ensure customer success?
Once those three areas are mastered, onboarding shifts to understanding the customers they will be working with directly.
Training for All-Around Customer Focus
Once the onboarding process is complete, training will still continue – it’s constant and present on a daily basis. Each employee should have an individual development plan to further their skills and work on any gaps.
Training is supported in our organization from the top down. We’ve adopted a mentality of “Smarter Every Day,” and often share with each other different things we’ve learned on our internal communication platforms. This helps with the growth and progression of the team as a whole.
If you’re looking to adopt a training program that provides ongoing learning, helps employees develop a wide range of skills, and brings about positive results for your business, our online training solution can help. We have thousands of videos covering a wide variety of soft skills such as communication and building relationships.