More and more often, technology is changing consumers’ behaviors by helping them become more informed, more engaged, and more empowered to drive business decisions. As business leaders, we have to be in tune to the wants and needs of the evolved consumer and be adaptable enough to meet, and exceed, their expectations. Businesses that are set up to deliver a high level of service often become more desirable in the eyes of consumers.
Developing a true customer-centered business model can be a challenge. In healthcare, for instance, many hospitals and physician offices are set up for the convenience of busy clinicians, not for the convenience of the patient. A number of hospitals are now working hard to change their focus by making patients and family members active participants on the healthcare team. It goes without saying that patient satisfaction increases when everything revolves around the care and convenience of the patient.
No matter what industry you’re in, to take a customer-centric approach to business, business leaders should:
- Knock down barriers and empower employees to do what is best for customers. Businesses that achieve employee empowerment will not only have happier customers, they may also discover they have happier employees; customer-centric companies typically rank as better places to work.
- Step outside the office and walk a mile in the shoes of their patrons. Having a deeper understanding of what your customers experience when they do business with you is the best way to make customer-centric changes. Ensuring a smooth process will help customers feel valued and employees feel more efficient.
- Ask for customer input. Providing a simple feedback system, such as a comment area on your website or a printed comment card, can give you a sense of what customers want, or don’t want. Focus groups can also be an effective way to gather opinions and ideas. At our hospital, we have also utilized a Patient Advisory Council to test new ideas before we implement them, such as with the re-engineering of our registration, coding and billing processes.
The most important thing you can do for your business is listen to your customers’ feedback, take it to heart, and build your business process around them. After all, your business should revolve around your customers because they are the reason your business exists.
Adapted from “Creating a Customer-Centered Business” by Kevin P. Speer