A decade ago, customer satisfaction was the rave.
(I am not just saying this. My claim is backed by Google Trends).
But, like most things in life and business, we have found the upper and lower layers of customer satisfaction.
In other words, you must take steps to ensure customer satisfaction. And, in turn, customer satisfaction should lead somewhere.
One of the ways to achieving customer satisfaction is through the design of products and services with a customer focus.
A customer focus is a conscious effort to meet customer expectations and fulfil their wants.
(On the other hand, customer satisfaction is simply a measure of how well the expectations have been met).
In essence, a customer focus puts the customer experience first, within an organisation. But, there are still some questions to be answered here for further clarity.
Let’s remove some basic misunderstandings.
Customer Focus is not just Customer Service
When I was about to write this blog, I did some Google search on customer focus. And, I was surprised to find out that a number of articles were trying to state the difference between a customer focus and customer service.
Here, we are talking about a strategy in customer focus against a structure in customer service. Even further, a customer focus is a mentality while a customer service is a part of the possible solution.
A customer focus is the act of building a culture of placing the customer in the centre of imagining and designing new products and services beyond the visible. (I can’t even come up with a relevant comparison for customer service here).
A more challenging difference to explain here is between a customer focused strategy and customer-centricity.
Customer Focused vs Customer-Centric
We have covered customer-centricity multiple times at Axies Digital. Here are 3 examples:
- How to Manage the Personalisation Strategy? Creating Customer-Centricity
- There is no Place for Behavioural Scripts in a Personalisation Strategy
- How to Create Opportunities with Time Management? – Business Growth Tactics
Customer centricity fits perfectly in an agile system, mostly applicable at the beginning of a business journey. You may carry the strategy forward when serious measures are required to maintain the sustainability of a business. But, later, when you have attained some flexibility in your business, you need to change to a customer focused strategy. Let me explain the difference.
A customer-centric strategy focuses on the needs of a customer.
But, a customer focused strategy takes care of the wants.
In business circles, wants and needs have been used continuously together. (I am guilty of doing the same). We have covered the topic in the following blogs:
- Nike Business – How does the No Production Strategy and Beyond Works?
- Entrepreneur Meets the World – Business Success through Developing Separations
- When You Learn to Get into the Shoes of Others – A Business Perspective
But, in reality, most businesses can only focus on only one. Either wants or needs.
Fulfilling the needs is about providing products and services that fit the desires of your customers. But, fulfilling the wants is about anticipation.
I am not suggesting here to start guessing. You need a method to your madness.
Making Customer a Part of the Journey
My favourite example of customer focus vs customer centricity is Nokia.
Nokia had the option to develop touchscreens. But instead, they put a group of people in a room and asked them if they would prefer touchscreens.
Given the fact that the people had never anticipated or used touchscreens, Nokia got a heavily one-sided response to sticking to traditional buttons. Of course, now we know that this was the wrong move.
So, even the customers did not know that they wanted touchscreens. And, other companies were able to anticipate this customer “want” and build touchscreens.
A Customer Focus is what led to touch screens.
Similar examples are also present in other industries.
For example, in the makeup and fashion industry, new products are developed by extrapolating trends. Similarly, new sunglasses are designed on the basis of developing customer profiles and then adding features to existing options.
In such cases, if the focus was just on fulfilling a need, such industries will never move forward.