As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 24th 2020
Dr Lucy Kiruthu
Many businesses claim that they are customer-oriented. Most such businesses have a core value that relates to the value they place on their customers. Whether this claim is true or not can only be confirmed by what their customers say and how they feel. Having a value relating to customers does not automatically result in customer orientation. Over the last three decades, many businesses have greatly benefited from a customer-oriented approach. Globally, businesses such as Amazon.com, the Ritz-Carlton, Southwest Airlines and many others have not shied away from doing what must be done to win their customers’ trust and keep them for life. Locally, businesses such as Java house and Chloride Exide have been pinpointed as being on the right track. How customer-oriented is your business?
Being customer-oriented means anticipating, understanding, meeting and even exceeding the needs of our customers consistently. It also means always being on the lookout for solutions to help our customers reach their goals. Customer orientation requires that we make it easier for our customers to do business with us at all times. Over the last nine months, customer orientation has been redefined and we have not seen it all yet. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in changes in human behaviors. Besides, new customer needs have arisen. As a result, smart businesses have made swift adjustments. Customer orientation means doing businesses differently from how we did it pre-COVID. At the center of customer-orientation approach is committing to meet the ever-changing needs of our customer. To do this, businesses need to gain a better understanding of their customers today more than ever before.
Understand your customers
We cannot claim to be customer-oriented if we do not understand our customers. Customer understanding requires that we gain a better understanding of our customers. We need to learn everything there is to learn about our customers. Who are our customers? Why do they buy from us? What do they like about us? What price are they willing to pay? What are their goals? Besides, we need to find out what their pain points are. What do they not like about us? During this COVID season, we need to learn also about their fears. What are our customers most afraid about during this season? Are they afraid of dwindling revenues? Are they most afraid of the risk of infection? Are they afraid of the productivity of their staff working remotely? With better customer understanding, we are likely to meet the growing needs of our customers.
Have you redefined what customer orientation means to you during this COVID season? Smart businesses have been quick to redefine customer orientation during the pandemic. Businesses have been able to support their customers remotely. Many others have focused on the unique needs that their customers have and developed new products and services to meet those needs. Others have reinvented their customer distribution models and communication channels. Businesses that have been able to reorient have done so by listening more to their customers. The pandemic has certainly pushed some businesses to become more customer-oriented. I believe that customers will stop disputing the claim that our businesses are customer-oriented if we listen more to them and take the needed action.
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy