Editor’s Notes: What 'Customer-First' Looks Like
There are a lot of things in business named for the customer: “customer experience,” “customer journey,” “customer-centric,” “customer relationship management” (CRM), “voice of the customer” ... and probably a few others that I’m forgetting.
Clearly, the idea is to put your customers first. But what does that actually look like?
To many marketers, putting the customer first means building the marketing and sales strategy around convincing prospects to become customers and customers to become repeat buyers. It’s optimizing the marketer-customer interaction to drive sales.
That’s essential to your marketing strategy, but it’s not “customer first.” In fact, it’s company first. The customer only factors into the strategy as the object that needs to be acted upon to achieve your goals. It’s one-way communication.
Then I look at a company like Cisco, the subject of our cover story this month, and I see what “customer-first” really looks like. There is a constant back-and-forth with customers that shapes the company’s products, customer interactions and all of its marketing. It’s not just about making sales — although you do get those along the way — it’s about providing the experience and the help your target audience needs.
Once you’re doing that successfully, and once you’ve optimized your products and services to be ideal for those needs, your company becomes the obvious one to do business with. You become the easiest choice for buyers to make.
Sometimes you see salespeople go into a client meeting as if it’s a confrontation. Like it’s a fight, and they need to win an argument to make a sale. (As if arguing with a prospect is ever a good thing.) Good marketing wins that fight before it even happens. Putting the customer first lets you make sure the sales war is happening on the battlefield you chose and have already prepared for victory.