As it appeared in the Daily Nation May 8th, 2018

Over the last two decades, the field of customer experience has attracted massive attention. Millions of dollars have been spent in training and retraining staff on the art and science of customer experience. Organizations have invested heavily on systems that support manage the customer experience such as Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Interactive Voice Response (IVR), queue management systems etc. Customer contact centres have been set up to help manage all customer interaction channels from a single point. Customer experience managers have been recruited to steer the customer experience agenda. Today, it is evident that many business owners and leaders recognize that happy customers are good for business and that great customer experiences have the power to increase customer retention and drive sales.

To gauge their customers’ level of happiness and loyalty, many businesses are continuously collecting feedback from customers. Every so often, we receive a customer survey questionnaire or an after sales call. We are informed that our feedback is important to the organization. Sometimes we participate in the feedback process in the hope of assisting the organization, other times we walk away without uttering a word. To gauge our customers’ level of happiness, it is not enough to have a feedback form in the hotel room, at the points of service, or on the website. Sending customers an email or an SMS survey or making an after sales call is also inadequate. Collecting customer feedback to gauge their happiness though important should not be sole focus of a business aiming to keep its customers happy. To make customers happy and to keep them happy requires a systematic inside out approach and a leadership that shows the way.

Internally, businesses hoping to keep their customers happy must define themselves with the customer in mind. Their leaders, staff, products, services, policies, procedure must be customer focused. Internal measures should show a red light when there are pain points on the customers’ journey. It is not clever to ask customers how happy they are yet the call or queue management system shows that they are waiting for too long or if negative staff attitudes are the norm internally. Why not fix the problem? Ask yourself – Why are customers calling us? Why are their calls taking too long to answer? Why are they visiting us? What do we need to do so they do not even have to call or visit us when they need help? If they visit us, how do we make their experience painless? Why are our staff portraying negative attitudes? Such questions help business leaders remove the roadblocks that they have set on the customer’s journey to happiness.

Businesses that are keen on keeping their customers happy by providing excellent personalized customer experience will continue to stand out. They will not only retain their existing happy customers but they will attract new ones. Unfortunately, businesses that are in the habit of upsetting their customers will lose them and will have a difficult time attracting new ones. If your customers are unhappy, be very worried because your job is at risk. Smart businesses recognize that their customers have a choice; they hold on to them by making them happy at every interaction!

Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy