"The customer is king" - Well, how often have you heard this sentence in your professional life? Whether in a restaurant, supermarket, workshop or hairdresser, this rule applies everywhere. But what exactly does it mean? Customer orientation is the magic word.
Surely you know this too. When you get great advice, the employees listen to your wishes and seem to know exactly what you want, even though you haven't said it at all, you are immediately much more open to a purchase or cooperation. You like to come back and recommend the company to others. All this is the result of excellent customer orientation. Together we will uncover the secret behind it and show you how your company can benefit from it.
What does customer orientation mean?
The term "customer orientation" is almost self-explanatory. Basically, it means nothing other than that all employees are customer-oriented in almost every respect. Experts have not yet been able to agree on an overarching definition. There are various approaches, and we will now take a look at a few of them together.
Customer orientation can be seen as a form of marketing that takes place directly with the customer. What is meant here is the interaction at the center of which is the relationship of dependence between the supplier and the customer. The company wants to sell something and must make it palatable to the clientele. This means not only promoting the product as well as possible, but also making the purchase a pleasant experience. In summary, a company aligns all its activities with the needs of its customers.
A second definitional approach focuses less on interaction and more on information gathering. What do customers want, what do they expect from a particular product or the shopping experience itself, and what are their needs? All this data is diligently collected and analyzed. The results then form the basis for building a relationship with each individual customer. This is also referred to as customer relationship management.
More than just consumers
Entrepreneurial activity is simply not possible without customer orientation. After all, the goal is to make a profit, right? And that only works if you take on board the wishes and expectations of your customers and adapt your own products and services accordingly. Customers are not just dull consumers. Their demands go far beyond the mere exchange of money for goods.
Almost every product is interchangeable, because there are often countless companies offering something similar. It doesn't really matter to customers where they buy it. In most cases, the decisive factor is which company has the right feeling. Where do the customers feel understood and where do the employees always put a smile on their faces? The companies and locations that take customer orientation seriously are the winners here.
If, on the other hand, a customer discovers that her own wishes are being completely ignored, she is bound to switch to the competition. This often happens insidiously and is not immediately noticeable for the company. This makes it all the more important to stay on the ball and identify at an early stage where there may be room for improvement.
Customer orientation on two levels
If we take a closer look at customer orientation, it quickly becomes clear that we have to look at it on two different levels in order to understand it properly. The two definitional approaches we have just discussed have already given it away to a certain extent. On the one hand, we have the information level and, on the other, the customer level.
Laying the foundations at the information level
First and foremost is the clientele. So first of all, all the information that is available about them must be collected. What about your own target group? Is it primarily male or female and what age group does it predominantly belong to? Does the company appeal to entire families, couples, singles, or does it not matter?
What challenges does the target group face in everyday life and how can the company's own product help to overcome them? These are all possible questions that can be answered at the information level. This should definitely happen regularly, because needs naturally change.
However, this is not only about the clientele, but also about the employees. After all, they are the ones who have to implement the knowledge gained. Therefore, it must be ensured that they have access to the necessary information and are always up to date. At the information level, it becomes clear how important it is for marketing, production and sales to work closely together. Only then can production produce exactly the products that customers want and that marketing can then in turn optimally promote so that sales can successful can sell.
From the buyer's point of view
At the customer level, everything revolves - how could it be otherwise - around the clientele. What is particularly important from the consumer's point of view? At the top of this list, of course, is clearly the quality of the products. But the behavior of the employees is also crucial.
Are they qualified, do they know exactly what they are talking about and do they offer great advice that is tailored to the customer's needs? Are they friendly, do customers feel comfortable with them and are they happy to come back? This is all about the all-round feel-good package. It's about building a certain bond with the company and the goods and showing authenticity.
This works best when employees manage to establish a personal connection. After all, the encounters that speak to us deep inside are the ones we like to repeat, right? It's even a win-win situation for both sides, because the better a company gets to know its clientele, the better it succeeds in even exceeding their expectations.
4 Characteristics of customer orientation
But now we have talked enough about the theory. Let's finally get down to practice! What can companies and employees do in concrete terms to make progress in terms of customer orientation? We'll take a look at that in the following.
1. not good, but very good service
Listening to customers and implementing exactly the wishes they express - that is the basis of good customer orientation. But who wants to be satisfied with a "good"? You certainly don't! The way to "very good" is through pleasant surprises. This means nothing other than that you are always one step ahead of your clientele and know exactly what they want before anyone has even voiced it.
At best, you even have an idea of what your customers need before they know it themselves. And that's when the surprise effect kicks in. Your customers will look at you with wide eyes and be impressed by how well you were able to estimate them.
2. emotional experiences
A purchase is not just a purchase. It is an experience that at best remains positively in the memory and makes customers want to come back again and again. So don't leave anything to chance and appeal to them on an emotional level. Create a connection between the product you want to sell and the personal circumstances of your customers. Perfect customer orientation is where rational expectations and positively influenced emotions meet.
Customer satisfaction is enormously important in every company. But why should satisfaction be the end of the line? Even satisfied customers may go to the competition. So how can this be prevented? Enthusiasm is the magic word.
Only those who are impressed by the buying experience will come back again and again and also make recommendations to family and friends. This allows companies to kill two birds with one stone. They retain customers and even win over new prospects.
4. committed employees
It is the employees who come into closest contact with the clientele and that is precisely why they are a particularly important linchpin. In order to make customers happy and to inspire them, motivated employees are indispensable. After all, only positive people can create positive experiences!
A company you can learn from
Netflix is known for its entertaining customer service chats. Employees like to slip into fictitious roles and customers do the same. The result is often humorous correspondence that makes customers forget their streaming problems for a moment. But that's far from all Netflix does to improve customer orientation.
Remember the early days of the streaming service? Admittedly, the word "streaming" didn't fit back then. Netflix shipped DVDs. The company strove to make movies and series more and more conveniently accessible, shortened delivery times more and more, and now they are even a thing of the past. One click on the remote control is all it takes to start a cozy movie night.
Maybe you feel the same way sometimes: you come home, get comfortable in front of the TV, but you just don't know what to watch. That's how it is for countless users! Netflix has long since recognized this problem and makes suggestions that exactly match your previous user behavior. There's even a shuffle function where you can simply let yourself be surprised and get to know something new. All of this makes the streaming service a prime example of outstanding customer orientation.
Why is customer orientation important?
Customers keep every company running. No matter how great the products are and how hard the employees work, as long as the customers stay away, there is no revenue. Sooner or later, that means ruin for any company. So it is important to put the consumers first and to always be up-to-date with their wishes and needs.
Winning over new customers again and again is important, no question about it. But it is at least as important to retain existing customers. The time factor, for example, should not be forgotten here. On average, it takes six to seven times as much time to win over a new customer as it does to bind an existing one closer to your company.
Customer orientation is therefore not only an important means of directly addressing as many potential buyers as possible, but also of turning walk-in customers into regular customers. If you manage to increase customer loyalty by just 5 %, this can bring your company 25 % more revenue. In some cases, up to 95 % is possible.
Is customer orientation a special skill or can anyone learn it?
Being able to put yourself in other people's shoes is a skill that some people are admittedly better at than others. It is then particularly easy for these people to understand the needs of their customers and how each individual customer can be tied to the company. But that doesn't mean that customer orientation is a skill you are born with or not. Like almost everything in life, it can be learned.
It should also be remembered that analyses form an important basis. Logical thinking is all that is needed to find out what customers particularly want at what time on the basis of collected data. Implementation, on the other hand, requires empathy and attentiveness. But fortunately, this can also be learned! Practice clearly makes perfect, so anyone can acquire the skill of customer orientation.
5 tips for better customer orientation
The topic of customer orientation has a very high priority in every company. How do you succeed in upgrading in this respect? By following our five tips!
1. place humanity above business
Yes, the success of a company is basically measured by its sales figures. But bluntly selling on mass without a personal connection does not turn walk-in customers into regular customers. And yet it is precisely the customers who keep coming back and are happy to recommend the company to others who make a significant contribution to its success! So always put the interpersonal in the foreground and you will see that in the long run this is the better strategy.
2. value your clientele
Not to forget the appreciation of the customers. This does not mean that a red carpet has to be rolled out and champagne served every time. What is meant is that customers should feel appreciated and taken seriously. Surely you also prefer to turn to companies that really take care of your wishes and are honestly happy about every customer and every purchase, don't you?
3. allow enough room for maneuver
Fixed plans and processes provide security. But when it comes to customer orientation, this is not necessarily the best approach. Every customer has individual needs and a unique personality. So give your employees enough freedom to respond to them in the best possible way! If they are only allowed to move within a narrow framework, they will not have the chance to orient themselves optimally to the clientele.
4. always stay in contact
Living conditions change, trends come and go, and so the wishes and needs of customers are always evolving. So always stay on the ball! Always take the time to ask questions. Only then will your company be able to hit the right nerve. If a customer was not completely satisfied once, then use the situation to learn from it so that everything is right again the next time.
5. become Greator Business Coach
The success of any business, even before the clientele can take action, is based on the skills and experience of the people behind it. The more ambitious you are, the higher you will make it. In our Business Coach Training you can satisfy your hunger for knowledge. We give you all the important skills that will help your company grow successfully.