What does it mean to be customer-focused?

On Friday, I wrote about what it means to have a customer-focused strategy. Today, I was asked to broaden the scope a bit and talk about what it means just to be customer-focused. I defined customer-focused strategy as:

Most simply, I would define “customer-focused strategy” as a view on business that puts customers at the center of business decisions.

That, along with several of the other examples and ideas I mentioned in the post on Friday, capture the essence of what I would call customer-focus. But what makes a customer-focused company? It’s a term we hear periodically and can’t think of any sort of successful company that wouldn’t like to describe itself as customer-focused, but what does it actually mean? And most importantly, when is it actually put into practice?

Customer-focus is quite literally and quite obviously, focusing on the customer. That means thinking about them when decisions are made, policies are implemented, and employees are trained. It spans across the whole business and is a cultural thing as much as it is anything else. Customer-focused businesses think about what they can do to make customers happy (as opposed to get the most money out of them, signup the most accounts, etc.) all the time and think about how they can make the customer experience better.

The best companies actually put that view into practice, though. It’s pretty easy to talk about (and to want), but it’s difficult to actually do it. I’d say that customer-focus and customer-focused strategy go hand in hand. The companies that are customer-focused (the ones that actually do it, instead of just say it) are already depending on a customer-focused strategy. If they’re doing it well, they’re most likely seeing that strategy work for them in all areas (happy employees, happy customers, financial success).

How do you define customer-focus? Do you think I’m pretty close or totally off?

3 Responses to “What does it mean to be customer-focused?”

  1. Defining “Customer-Focused Strategy” « Customers Rock! said:

    May 15, 08 at 10:15 am

    [...] Posted by Becky Carroll on May 14, 2008  My blogging friend Glenn Ross has put forth the following challenge to some of his fellow Customer Service bloggers (including me): How do you define “Customer-Focused Strategy?”  Great question, Glenn!  Glenn has posted his definition of a customer-focused strategy, and has included ideas and definitions from other excellent customer service bloggers, including ServiceUntitled, CustomersAreAlways, and CustServ.  There are many good ideas there, and I encourage you to check them out. [...]

  2. Glenn Ross said:

    May 20, 08 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for participating in the discussion. Here’s my latest definition:http://www.allbusiness.com/company-activities-management/operations-customer/10206589-1.html

    Regards,

    Glenn

  3. dibisy said:

    Mar 05, 13 at 11:00 am

    why do you think it is important as an Airport Security Officer to have a customer focused approach?