What is Customer Focus, Why is it Important and How to Become Customer Focused | Paul Viio (2023)

Being customer focused is likely to make customers more interested in dealing with you (as opposed to choosing your competitor). As a result, being customer focused can help you improve your sales, business,and profits. Let me explain this in detail – or, if you’rein a hurry, just watchthe below video to cut to the chase.

What does customer focus mean?

To properly understand what the concept ‘customer focus’ refers to and what being customer focused means, let’s first look at the broader picture and how customer focus relates to and differs from ‘customer orientation’. At this point, some might ask “Aren’t they the same thing?”. Well, not really, they’re not. But, they are closely related. To understand how they interrelate, agood place to start is to define customer orientation (in the context of selling and buying).

Customer orientation

When searching for a definition, nowadays many people turn to a search engine for help. A quickGoogle searchresults in the Business Dictionarybeing awarded a top hit for definingcustomer orientation.That definition is rather narrow, merely focusing on actions. This is to some extent helpfulbut doesn’t quite solve the riddle, which is why a somewhat more scientific approach is selected.

According to the seminal scientific study on sales vs. customer orientation of salespeople in the Journal of Marketing Research by Saxe and Weitz (1982), customer-oriented selling refers to: “the degree to which salespeople practice the marketing concept by trying to help customers make purchase decisions that will satisfy customers needs” (Saxe & Weitz, 1982: 344). In their article, they present a scale that can be used to determine the degree to which a salesperson is sales oriented or customer oriented, the SOCO scale. Being sales oriented refers to focusing on the salesperson’s and selling firm’s interest, whereas being customer oriented refers to focusing on the customer. As Saxe and Weitz state, “highly customer-oriented salespeople engage in behaviors aimed at increasing customer long-term satisfaction” (1982:344). Moreover, as they point out, adopting a customer-oriented way of working involves avoiding actions that sacrifice customer interest and satisfaction to increase the likelihoodof making an immediate sale.

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However, as argued by Viio and Nordin (2017), customer orientation and focuson the customernot only manifests in one’s behavior or actions. For an organization or salesperson to be truly customer oriented, this involves a customer-oriented behavior and mindset. In the context of sales adaptation,Viio and Nordin (2017) refer to this asdouble-loop sales adaptation,which they present and discuss in their recent articleDouble-Loop Sales Adaptation: A Conceptual Model and an Empirical Investigation published in the Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing. For those who are interested, the study by Viio and Nordin that resulted in the model of double-loop sales adaptationwas inspired by Chris Argyris’ model for organizational double-loop learning (see, Argyris, 1977, 2002).

Customer focus

With the above introduction, customer orientation can be understood as an approach, as a mindset that puts the customer and his/her interest first. Although customer focus is closely related to that, customer focus can be understood as forming the strategyfor customer orientation for the salesperson or organization. Upon closer examination, customer orientation is – or seems to be – on a higher level of abstraction than customer focus. This is not always prevalent or even included in definitions for example found through a simpleGoogle search (see,for example,customer focus by theBusiness Dictionary). In the context of sales and the interaction between the seller and buyer, beingcustomerfocused refers to the seller taking the viewpoint of the customer. This means putting yourself in the shoes of your customer and viewing things from the buyer’s or customer’s perspective. This entails feeling what your customer is feeling, thinking of what the customer is dreaming of and what he/she is aspiring to achieve or become. In brief, it means putting the customer in the driving seat and focusing on his/her needs, wishes, aspirations and dreams – as opposed to you focusing on yourself and your business.

Why is it advisable to be customer focused?

Now that we have defined, discussed and clarified the concepts customer orientation and customer focus, it probably makes sense to elaborate on why it makes sense to be customer focused. Putting yourself in the customers’ situations and viewing things from their perspective is important because it helps us better understand the customer and what is likely to form the right solution for him/her. It helps to take away some of the guesswork and puts the seller on the same page with the buyer/customer.

Being customer focused puts you in a better position to help your customers, in an honest way. Your customer will sense and see that you are making an extra effort to understand the situation at which they are and to really understand them to be better able to help them get where they want to be.

Focusing on your customer usually makes it more appealing for customers to work with you, it creates mutual engagement. A problem that your customer first thought they are facing suddenly becomes a mutual project between you and your customer. Also, the goal becomes a mutual goal that both you and your customer are aiming at. For example, perhaps your customer wants to be awarded a contract with their customer, but they are missing something that their competitor has. Once you focus on your customer and understand their situation, you are in a better position to help them. Their challenge/problem becomes your mutual problem. Their challenge to become awarded that contract becomes your mutual goal. (See, double-loop sales adaptation, Viio & Nordin, 2017).

As a result of being customer focused, you will not only feel good about what you are doing and how you are working, but you are also likely to sleep better (knowing that you are not taking advantage of others, in this case, your customers), and – maybe most importantly, at least from a sales perspective – you will probably be more successful than your competitors. In fact, it is not unlikely that the “tide will turn” and that you are more frequently than before contacted by customers who want your help, as opposed to you having to chase them to offer your support.The power of word-of-mouth should not be underestimated.

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How to becomecustomer focused?

As pointed out in the study on double-loop sales adaptation (Viio & Nordin, 2017), also being customer focused can be understood as occurring on two levels: behavior and mindset. Of course, these two are interconnected. Hence, one needs to work at both levels.

Customer-oriented mindset

First, we need to switch on the mindset of focusing on the customer. This involves letting go of our own priorities – and ego. Let go of focusing on your own needs and wants, and focus on those of your customer. Ask yourself: How can I help my customer?

You can train and practice your customer focus skills in reverse: when being in a situation where you are the customer, work on your senses and reflection. Ask yourself how the seller or service provider makes you feel. Is he/she interested in your needs, wants, priorities, situation, and desires? Or, is he/she more interested in just making a sale. Does the service and attention that you receive from the seller or service provider increase or decrease your level of satisfaction and wellbeing?

Customer-oriented behavior

When it comes to improving your customer-focused behavior, also there you can work in reverse. When you are the customer, reflect on what the seller or service provider does that causes you to feel the way you do. How do they behave, what do they do, and how do they do it? Analyze what they could do better, how they could improve their performance? Consider what you would do in their situation that could increase the level of satisfaction, appreciation,and happiness that you are experiencing. Train yourself in customer focus skills by making the most of service encounters in daily situations, no matter how small or big they might be.

Combining mindset and behavior

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When you are selling to or serving a customer, focus on both your mindset and behavior. Ask yourself if your mindset is tuned to primarily help your customer and if you are acting in the best interest of your customer. Be honest, be sincere.If not, customers will sense your dishonesty and insincerity, and you will not sleep well (I hope).Keep your focus on your customer and act in the best interest of your customer.

Conclusion

As a conclusion, when done right, focusing on your customers can help change a company from an ordinary company to a great one. In fact, as a result of transforming their approach and strategy to become highly customer focused, the biggest challenge a Swedish company, Upplands Motor (which I have covered before in a previous blog post) that I know encountered was coping to serve all new customers that chose to switch to them. That shows how powerful an approach customer orientation can be and what the strategy of customer focus can result in when properly implemented. To me, that validates the points that I’m making in this post.

Hope this clarifies what customer focus is and, why being customer focused matters, and how to practice becoming more customer focused. Furthermore, I hope this inspires you to reflect on your customer-focus competencies, to practice those competencies and skills, and to successfully implement those in a way that improves your sales performance and in life in general.

Wishing you lots of success,

Dr. Paul Viio

P.S. Should you have comments or points that you want to share, please go ahead. Looking forward to hearing from you.

P.P.S. If you liked this post, make sure to give it a ‘thumbs up’ and share itto others.

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References
Scientific articles (peer-reviewed):

Argyris, Chris. “Double loop learning in organizations.” Harvard business review 55.5 (1977): 115-125.

Argyris, Chris. “Double-loop learning, teaching, and research.” Academy of Management Learning & Education 1.2 (2002): 206-218.

Saxe, Robert and Barton Weitz, A. (1982), “The SOCO scale: A measure of the customer orientation of salespeople,” JMR, Journal of Marketing Research, 19 (3), 343-51.

Viio, P. and Nordin, F. (2017). Double-Loop Sales Adaptation: A Conceptual Model and an Empirical Investigation,Journal of Business-to-Business Marketing, 24(2), 122-137.

Companies referred to:

Google (Alphabet Inc)

Upplands Motor AB

Other material referred to:

Video by Dr. Paul Viio: Customer focus:https://youtu.be/wTnI3S7F7Io

(Video) Oasis - The Importance Of Being Idle - Official Video

Blog post by Dr. Paul Viio: How to build a service business that can revolutionize an industry

Business Dictionary – customer orientation:http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customer-orientation.html

Business Dictionary – customer focus:http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/customer-focus.html

FAQs

What is customer Focus Why is it important and how do you become customer focused? ›

It involves putting yourself in your customer's shoes and focusing on the needs, wants and expectations of your customers. Understanding things from your customer's perspective allows you to deliver an exceptional customer experience. A customer focus should be your main priority when it comes to any business decision.

Why focus on customer is important? ›

A focus on customers can drive sales: 93 percent of customers will spend more with companies that offer their preferred option to reach customer service and 90 percent will spend more with companies that personalize the customer service they offer them.

What is the customer focus? ›

What is customer focus? Customer focus means putting your customers' needs first. Customer-focused businesses foster a company culture dedicated to enhancing customer satisfaction and building strong customer relationships.

How do you answer a customer focus question? ›

For instance: "Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult customer and how you handled the situation." Customer focused competency examples should balance empathy for the customer with adherence to company policy: "I had a situation where a customer demanded to return a product after the return date.

How do you become customer-focused? ›

10 Tips for Becoming a Customer-Focused Organization
  1. Know Your Customer. ...
  2. Figure Out Their Problem, and Solve it. ...
  3. Build Trust with Your Customers. ...
  4. Keep Up to Date with Your Industry. ...
  5. Utilize Customer Feedback. ...
  6. Tie Your Customers into Your Brand. ...
  7. Customer Experience is Key. ...
  8. Continually Improve Products and Processes.

What is your most important customer-focused business goal? ›

Put your customers first to build a happy, loyal customer base. 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.

What is customer focus PDF? ›

The concept "customer focus" means meeting the needs and expectations of current and potential customers by developing a comprehensive understanding of customer needs and then delivering perceived value to customers.

What is an example of customer focus? ›

Some of the customer focus examples include quality customer support, developing the best solutions for clients rather than the best products in general, using various data to understand customer behavior better, asking for customer feedback and taking it seriously to improve, focusing on their satisfaction, etc.

What are customer focused questions? ›

Customer Focus interview questions

Give me an example of one experience in your job that reflects your commitment to customer focus? Tell me about a time when you received a customer complaint. What did you do? If you are asked to move to another department in the organization, which one would you prefer?

What are the 3 most important things in customer service? ›

Essentially, the 3 important qualities of customer service center around three “p”s: professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. Although customer service varies from customer to customer, as long as you're following these guidelines, you're on the right track.

What's another word for customer focused? ›

What is another word for customer-focused?
customer-centricclient-centric
client-focusedcustomer-oriented
customer-basedservice-oriented
goodwillcustomer satisfaction
quality controlquality-controlled

How would you describe yourself as customer focused? ›

Examples: Took great pride in ensuring positive overall customer experience. Customer-focused approach to trouble shooting, resolving problems and ensuring repeat business. Responsible for managing customer expectations in delivering superior levels of service.

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for customer service? ›

General and Common Customer Service Interview Questions

What does good customer service mean to you? What's the best customer service you've ever received? What do you consider to be the most important skills when providing customer service? How do you ensure you maintain good communication with every customer?

What is customer service questions and answers? ›

Customer service interview questions with sample answers
  • What is customer service? ...
  • How can you improve a dissatisfied customer's experience? ...
  • Describe a time you collaborated with a peer to solve a problem. ...
  • What would you do if you didn't know how to help a customer? ...
  • How would past coworkers or classmates describe you?

What are the three levels of customer focus? ›

According to Andrew Gibson there are three main levels of customer service. They are the expected level, the desired level, and the unanticipated level.

How do you build a customer focused team? ›

How to create a customer-focused organization
  1. Include customers in your branding identity. ...
  2. Make goals related to customers. ...
  3. Include customer-service in your culture. ...
  4. Ask for feedback. ...
  5. Communicate openly with customers. ...
  6. Train employees for customer service goals. ...
  7. Exceed customer expectations. ...
  8. Incentivize employees.
5 Apr 2021

How do you deliver a customer focused service? ›

  1. Know your product. As a customer support agent, you spend all day troubleshooting for customers, and that means you need to be a product expert. ...
  2. Maintain a positive attitude. ...
  3. Creatively problem-solve. ...
  4. Respond quickly. ...
  5. Personalize your service. ...
  6. Help customers help themselves. ...
  7. Focus support on the customer. ...
  8. Actively listen.
31 Aug 2022

Which are expected outcomes of customer focus performance? ›

Which are expected outcomes of customer-focus performance? Members of the workforce must conduct themselves and perform their duties in a manner consistent with this policy. Violations may result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.

What is customer satisfaction? ›

Customer satisfaction is defined as a measurement that determines how happy customers are with a company's products, services, and capabilities. Customer satisfaction information, including surveys and ratings, can help a company determine how to best improve or changes its products and services.

What 2 questions would you ask in customer focused marketing? ›

5 Customer-Focused Questions To Guide Your Content Marketing
  • Pick the right content road map. ...
  • Remember, you are talking to people just like you. ...
  • What do we want to achieve? ...
  • What are we going to measure to determine success? ...
  • Who do you want to reach?
19 Mar 2013

What do you think we mean by customer focused service and how will it relate to this job? ›

Being customer focused puts you in a better position to help your customers, in an honest way. Your customer will sense and see that you are making an extra effort to understand the situation at which they are and to really understand them to be better able to help them get where they want to be.

How do you answer competency review questions? ›

Techniques for Answering Competency Questions
  1. Situation: Describe the situation.
  2. Task: Describe what task was required of you.
  3. Action: Tell the interviewer what action you took.
  4. Result: Conclude by describing the result of that action.
31 May 2022

What are 3 things you think customer support should focus on? ›

Essentially, the 3 important qualities of customer service center around three “p”s: professionalism, patience, and a “people-first” attitude. Although customer service varies from customer to customer, as long as you're following these guidelines, you're on the right track.

How do you build a customer-focused team? ›

How to create a customer-focused organization
  1. Include customers in your branding identity. ...
  2. Make goals related to customers. ...
  3. Include customer-service in your culture. ...
  4. Ask for feedback. ...
  5. Communicate openly with customers. ...
  6. Train employees for customer service goals. ...
  7. Exceed customer expectations. ...
  8. Incentivize employees.
5 Apr 2021

Why is a product customer focus An important characteristic of successful entrepreneurs? ›

Product/ Customer focus, it is a defining characteristic of successful entrepreneurs that emphasizes producing good products with the capability to satisfy customers. Developing products that enhance people's lives is an aspect of the entrepreneurial process that many business owners find very rewarding.

What is most important to a customer? ›

Customers need your product or service to function the way they need in order to solve their problem or desire. Customers have unique budgets with which they can purchase a product or service. Your product or service needs to be a convenient solution to the function your customers are trying to meet.

What is the most important element in understanding a customer? ›

Acknowledging and Respecting your Customer's concerns. This first element is all about listening to your customer, knowing their concerns and respecting these concerns. You can break the wall of an irate customer if you let them know that their concerns are heard.

What are the top 3 most important elements of high customer satisfaction? ›

The three major factors that affect modern customer satisfaction can be categorized as customer perceived quality, value, and service. By harnessing these factors, you are able to provide positive, consistent customer experiences and create true customer loyalty.

What customer focus examples? ›

Some of the customer focus examples include quality customer support, developing the best solutions for clients rather than the best products in general, using various data to understand customer behavior better, asking for customer feedback and taking it seriously to improve, focusing on their satisfaction, etc.

What is customer focus PDF? ›

The concept "customer focus" means meeting the needs and expectations of current and potential customers by developing a comprehensive understanding of customer needs and then delivering perceived value to customers.

What's another word for customer focused? ›

What is another word for customer-focused?
customer-centricclient-centric
client-focusedcustomer-oriented
customer-basedservice-oriented
goodwillcustomer satisfaction
quality controlquality-controlled

Why is focus important as an entrepreneur? ›

The ability to stay focused is the one trait that really helps entrepreneurs empower themselves to ultimately bring their vision to life. Understanding what good focus is and what bad focus is in business, makes a huge difference to your ability to move your company forward.

Should every company become a customer focused business Why or why not? ›

Customer-centric companies are more profitable

Considering the impact customer service can have on retention, it should be no surprise that companies that make their customers a priority are more profitable. Research from Deloitte and Touche found that businesses with a customer-centric focus are 60% better.

What is involved in customer focused marketing? ›

Instead of being product-centric, customer-focused marketing is completely focused on the customer's actions. These companies are more interested in developing a mutually beneficial relationship with customers and are positioned to meet their expectations.

How customer focus would contribute in maintaining quality standards in the organization? ›

Customer focus

When you understand what your customer wants or needs, you have a better chance of figuring out how to get the right materials, people, and processes in place to meet and exceed their expectations. To implement this TQM principle: Research and understand your customers' needs and expectations.

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