As it appeared in the Daily Nation on December 19th, 2017
Every day, millions of customer interactions happen. These interactions are either face-to-face, via telephone, via email, via social media or on other online platforms. These interactions shape the customers’ perception of our businesses. Most importantly, it is these interactions that determine whether the customers will keep coming back or if that will be their last interaction with the business. What the customer tell others about a business is also influenced by the interactions they have had both positive and negative. How many businesses consider every customer interaction priceless? How many intentionally make every customer interaction positive?

A priceless interaction is so important that its value cannot be easily established. A single positive interaction may open the door for a lifetime high value customer. On the contrary, a single negative interaction may lead to the loss of a key account. We have witnessed many single negative interactions that have gone viral resulting to public relations crises. In such cases, companies have spent millions trying to rebuild a tainted brand image just because of a single interaction. Many businesses have suffered quietly as customers fail to come back. Other businesses have failed to benefit from the power of referrals because the customers have nothing good to share with others.

There are also those businesses spending heavily on marketing but ignoring the customer interactions. They end up doing exceptionally well in marketing but the customer interactions send customers away. Recently I saw an advertisement for a heated pool. I visited the pool and it was at room temperature. Unfortunately, the pool attendant was unapologetic. I chose to request for a refund. Why pay a premium for a pool that is not heated? After the manager was consulted, he willingly gave me the refund and asked that I return after two weeks. I doubt if I will be going back to the facility soon.

The good news though is that there are businesses that know the secret of precious interactions. Such businesses aim to make every interaction count. They prepare well in advance for the customer interactions and put in great effort for a painless customer experience. In such businesses, every staff member recognizes their key responsibility in meeting the customers’ expectations. The leadership also recognizes its responsibility in showing the way and creating a work environment where customers are respected, valued and appreciated. These smart businesses recognize that the price tag on every single interaction is to be treasured.

December has many customer interactions. For the retail sector, recreation facilities and holiday destinations this is their peak month. Such sectors will have many customers visiting their business for the first time. The main question is – will the experiences make the customers want to come back? For other businesses, closing the year on a high is commendable. This festive season presents an opportunity to uplift the overall customer experience. It is the best time to reflect on 2017 and identify opportunities to improve the customer experience in 2018. Every business has an opportunity to stand out and attract new customers. More importantly, every business has an opportunity to spread some cheer to all customers at every interaction whether face-to-face, on phone or online. Are your customer interactions worth coming back for?

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