6 Ways You Aren’t Putting Your Customer First—And How to Fix Them

(This article was written by Serenity Gibbons and appeared on forbes.com.)

Every dollar your business spends on promoting the well-being of your customers is a dollar that will come right back to you. Eighty-six percent of buyers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience, so failing to put your customers first is equivalent to leaving money on the table.

In times like these, it can be easy to lose sight of everything but the bottom line. But ignoring the needs of your customers will do you more harm than good in the long run. Businesses hoping to ensure their success well into the future need to treat their customers right today.

Here’s how you can do so:

1. Unresearched Marketing

Your customers may know your brand, but does your brand know its customers? People want to see advertising that directly appeals to their concerns as customers, and your business needs to be able to provide that.

Knowing your customers is the first step to providing them with what they want. There are several different ways you can develop an understanding of your consumer base, but HubSpot’s guide to market research is a good place to start for the uninitiated. Learn about their demographics, interests, and desires as consumers—all of this information can help you know how best to put them first.

2. Inaccessibility

If your customers have something they need to say to you, they shouldn’t have a difficult time doing so. Many businesses, however, simply have a “contact us” form, with little more than an email that rarely gets answered. Your clientele deserves better, and new tools are being developed all the time to help you do that.

Simply put, you need to get your customers in touch with a human being as frequently as possible. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t have the digital infrastructure in place to make that feasible—enter applications like PingPilot. PingPilot can integrate SMS, live chat, and email directly onto your business’s website, landing page, or e-book, giving your customers a click-to-human experience. With storefronts closed and call centers shuttered, you need a digital bridge between you and your patrons.

3. Not Listening 

Once you’ve established a channel for your customers to reach out, you need to be sure to listen to what they have to say. For plenty of companies, customer feedback goes in one ear and out the other—an attitude almost guaranteed to lose business.

While the obvious solution is to always listen to your customers, you should also be asking the right questions. If you’re only inquiring about the information you need to know, you’re far less likely to lose track of the answer. This customer survey guide from Hotjar is a helpful template for learning how you can communicate with your clients in a way that produces valuable information.

4. Losing Sight of Your Mission

In 2020, people are drawn to companies that stand for something. The organizations that have goals and values are the ones geared for success in today’s market, so developing and maintaining a companywide mission is more important than ever before.

As economic certainty decreases, it’s tempting to ignore goals that aren’t directly related to filling your company’s coffers. But losing sight of your mission may cost you more than you know. An unguided company can hemorrhage customers like no other, so getting everyone on board with your mission now promotes your business’s well-being later on.

5. Siloing Teams

If your entire company isn’t working together, people can’t possibly be focused on the same goal of promoting the customer. You need to start integrating your business’s various work teams to ensure that all of your employees are on the same page in that respect.

One of the best ways to do so is by adopting the right collaboration software. Work management solution WorkFront reports that 94 percent of companies find that collaboration is critical to their overall success and using project management software is a good way to kick that off. Especially as levels of remote work hit new highs, businesses need to find ways to let technology help them cultivate teamwork.

6. Lacking Transparency

The 2019 Edelman Trust Survey uncovered a number of interesting facts, perhaps the most consequential of which is that more than 80 percent must trust a brand before purchasing its products. You need your customers to trust you, and transparency is the only way to guarantee that.

Regularly release statements regarding the current state of your business and what’s coming next. Respond to every moment of crisis or uncertainty with candor and openness—being honest with your customer base is the only way to develop a lasting sense of trust.

It’s simple: Value your customer, and she’ll value you in return. Business is all about relationships and developing positive ones with your clients is a crucial component of success that’s far too often ignored.