This year, I chose to proactively apply customer focus in my day to day life.

These were my biggest takeaways from the exercise:

Focus on people vs product

Every corporate landscape today is a race towards building the ‘Best in class’ product. Products are based on customer needs. That’s a given. But often somewhere along the line, the customer element gets dissociated from the product. But if we are encouraged to maintain that connection irrespective of which department we work in, the association pushes us towards a superior product. Whether we work in sales, tech or marketing; we first work for the customer. It is easy to forget that.

Customers facilitate more effective negotiations

Customer focus humanizes the work we do. Each day, I am aware that I am not negotiating for short term gains but instead for long term benefits to the customer. Shifting the conversation to the customer gives both the suppliers/clients and the company a common end goal; it makes the negotiation less distributive and more integrative. I now begin negotiations as ‘This is what we need to do to deliver the best service to the customer’. This approach neutralises the negotiation, it shifts the power to the customer and not the company or the supplier. And ultimately when we collaborate to please the customer, it yields gains for all parties because it sets in motion a virtuous circle of consumer satisfaction and commercial success.

The best ideas for innovation come from active listening

Customers give feedback all the time. They rate the service; they leave reviews. If we really listen, we come to realize that their words provide an untapped goldmine. Often, every new feature a product requires has already been suggested by the customer. We just need to pay attention to their comments.

Empathy is powerful

Every day I am aware that the decisions I make impact somebody’s holiday, an experience that they may have saved all year for, a respite from monotony. Empathizing with this reality motivates me to be better each day as an employee, as a team member and a colleague. Because we are all working towards a common goal. It creates a sense of community in the workplace and outside of work, it pushes me to be kinder. Standing in a long queue at the supermarket or waiting for an online order delivery, I am less cynical than I used to be. Because now, more than ever I understand the efforts that go into delivering quality customer service.

In the coming year, I hope to continue on this journey of taking the time to get closer to the customer needs at the workplace, really listening to the people in my personal life and most importantly, paying attention to the main customer in my life- ME!