Do We Take Our Customers Seriously?

Analyzing the various aspects of what constitutes a WOW service from some of the business I have come across addressing some fundamental issues that should be looked into by any business in Kenya.

Most companies and their employees that I have had the opportunity to liaise with I ask a fundamental question …who is your customer?

Many mumble some sort of an answer with some sort of accuracy when this is a rather straight forward question if every company was and all its employees were trained to be customer focused.

Many companies in Kenya would rather departmentalize all their dealing with the customer to a “customer care” department or let the Human Resource department deal with issues concerning the customer while the rest of the work force focuses on production.

Customer care involves putting systems in place to maximize your customers' satisfaction with your business. It should be a prime consideration for every business - your sales and profitability depends on keeping your customers happy.

There are many trainers out there in the market who can train and many bigger companies would even hire consultants from overseas to train their people.

Some of the issues that arise here are that solutions provided are not locally based and sooner or later no sustainable gains are realized from this kind of training.

Some companies have heavily endorsed Kaizen practices (a Japanese word for continuous improvement) and after several years of expensive training the results are hardly acceptable and rarely do they focus on customer care but primarily improved cost effective production systems.

The question that keeps arising is what should a business do to retain customer satisfaction?

Vision/Mission Statements are crucial statements that indicate important issues like values, importance of employees, growth and a business strategy developed from a customer’s perspective which define clearly the What, How and Who the business is targeting. This will be a guide to all employees and the owners of the business will focus on and work in tandem with the company goals.

Measure and if you can’t measure then you cannot improve. In order to evaluate we must measure and that also goes with customer satisfaction. Many companies indulge in a series of questionnaires to their customers which mostly elicit no response. Why? The complaint is not followed up, many companies do not learn from complaints. If a consumer saw his complaint being actioned upon and making a difference then more questionnaires would be taken seriously.

Products. Are your products what the consumer is looking for? Many companies spend a considerable amount of time developing products and then strategizing on how to create demand. This is the push method instead of a pull method wherein you have a product where there is a demand.

Customer Centric. Whatever service or product you are selling is what the customer requires.  In today’s business the customer demands to be involved in the business as compared to being part of the business. There is a paradigm shift from being buyer beware to seller beware.  There should be constant meetings with your customers in order to develop that special relationship.

Employees/Employer: Many companies go to great lengths in training the employees on how to present themselves in front of customers yet bad service is persistent.  Therefore what is the root cause of bad customer experience? Many times especially in family run business or a one man show business the employer treats his staff with little or no respect which translates to the staff also developing the same attitude towards the customer.  A simple business strategy which always works is the employer takes care of the employees who takes care of the customer and the customer takes care of the share holder.

Company Culture: Every company must realize without the customer there is no business. The entire company including the CEO should be focused on a customer centric culture to create that positive experience to ensure every interaction with the company brings out the WOW experience.

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