14 Effective Ways To Put the Customer First
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Maintaining a positive relationship with customers is a goal of every business. When customers feel that you're treating them with respect, compassion and patience, they're more likely to return to your organization. Knowing how to put the customer first is an important skill for anyone working in a customer-facing company, and if this applies to you, you may benefit from learning about different ways to do so. In this article, we discuss what it means to put the customer first and provide 14 ways to put the customer first.
Related: Guide to Customer Service
What does it mean to put the customer first?
Putting the customer first is the philosophy of running a company in a way that makes customers feel special and appreciated. When customers enjoy their experience at a business, whether it's a restaurant or retail store, they're more likely to come back. Customers are also more likely to choose businesses they had pleasant experiences with before. Putting the customer first means doing everything you can to ensure they receive the highest level of care.
14 ways to put the customer first
When interacting with customers, it's important to make them feel like their satisfaction is the number one priority. There are a variety of ways to achieve this goal, but combining multiple approaches is an effective strategy. Here are 14 ways to put the customer first:
1. Base the company culture around the customer
A company's culture refers to its values, perspectives and goals. Every member of an organization contributes to the culture, but leaders within the company are usually the ones who set the standard. When trying to put the customer first, it's important to create a culture that sees the customer as somebody who allows the business to exist. When the employees of a company see customers as the ones keeping the business going, they're more likely to treat them with respect.
2. Take care of employees
Customers can usually tell when an employee is happy. Happy employees lead to a more pleasant experience for customers because smiling and laughing can encourage positivity. One of the best ways to make customers feel relaxed and comfortable in your organization is to surround them with happy employees. If you're a manager or leader, when employees feel like you hear and respect them at work, they typically work harder.
3. Target your audience
It's easier to put the customer first when you know what an average customer is like. Targeting your audience allows you to maintain a profile of what your typical customers are like. Knowing the age, interests and schedules of your customers allows you to create an experience that feels custom-fitted for them.
Related: 20 Customer Service Tips
4. Create a customer-centered attitude
When a business cares about customers, it's apparent in their attitude. To create an experience that puts the customer first, it's important to maintain an attitude that reflects that goal. Attitude is more than just the disposition of employees, it's a system of treating people in a way that makes them feel like you appreciate them.
5. Personalize the customer experience
Customers like to feel that they're receiving a personalized experience. Creating small customizations in your work that make customers feel like you're noticing them can make a big difference. This can be as simple as writing a thank you note after serving them, knowing their usual order or just remembering their name when they come to the store. These small gestures can have a big impact on improving customer experience.
6. Offer exceptional service
Customers notice when an employee goes beyond the scope of their duty to provide assistance. If you're willing to put in the extra effort with a customer, even when it's not required, customers are sure to notice and appreciate you. Customers who receive this high level of care are likely to return more frequently.
7. Ask what the customer wants
When trying to figure out the best way to enhance customer experience, the easiest way is often to ask them. Most customers are willing to give insight on what they want out of a business. If you ask a customer questions like, "Is there anything else I can help you with?" or "Is there anything else I can do for you right now?" customers can explain what it takes to make them feel special.
8. Allow customers to leave feedback
Customer feedback is invaluable when designing a customer-first experience. Whether they leave feedback articulating all the wonderful things you did or feedback about what you can improve, hearing directly from the source is indispensable data. If a customer is unhappy with the service, they may not return. However, if you let them tell you what was unsatisfactory, then you can ensure their experience is better when they come back.
Related: 15 Online Customer Service Jobs
9. Give your customer what they want
Customers most likely know what they're looking for in a business. If you're able to ask them, or receive feedback after serving them, then you may have an idea of what the customer prefers. Once they express their desires, doing whatever you can to make this a reality can help ensure that the customers are a priority. Customers who get what they want often feel their experience was satisfying.
10. Provide easy access and accommodate the customer's schedule
Customers usually feel appreciative when you're able to help them contact the right person, even after work hours. When a customer's schedule is busy or they're working odd hours, it can be a challenge to get the help they need. Being available and willing to work around a customer's schedule quickly makes you a trusted resource for them.
11. Give rewards to express your thanks
Rewarding customers for their continued business is one of the best ways to make them feel exceptional. This can be as simple as offering a deal on their next visit or a raffle for a free prize. Customers love when businesses reward them with extra incentives and treats.
12. Be adaptable
Customers are more likely to work with someone who is willing to make changes when needed. Adapting your service to meet a customer's needs keeps them coming back. When customers feel that you're giving them the best experience possible, they're more likely to leave satisfied.
13. Be transparent
It's unlikely that you're able to satisfy customers 100% of the time. When that happens, the best approach is to be transparent with them. If you let them know what is stopping you from fully meeting their needs, most customers appreciate the honesty. Even if you're unable to satisfy a customer completely, customers are less frustrated if you tell them the truth about your situation.
14. Be willing to adjust the rules if necessary
Sometimes there are issues that prevent you from helping a customer as much as you would like. Other times, it may be possible to bend the rules slightly to get the customer what they need. This could be as simple as staying open for an extra 15 minutes or making them a dish that's not on the menu. Customers feel special if they get this type of personalized treatment. You can't break every rule, but if you're willing to put the customer's satisfaction above all else, they're more likely to return to the business and become a more loyal customer.
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