As it appeared in the Daily Nation on September 11th 2018
Lucy Kiruthu

Today, customer experience is a major area of focus in many organisations. Business leaders and managers across the globe have shifted their attention to the customer. They recognize the customer as a key player in the survival of their businesses. They know that the numbers on their income statement relate to customers and that it is the customers that pay their salaries. In addition, these leaders are aware that their customers have a choice; they can easily vote with their feet. They know that products and price can no longer be a differentiator as they can be easily matched. To be unique, smart businesses are today offering a customer experience that is different from that of others in their industry and at the marketplace. Customer experience presents the greatest opportunity for businesses to be distinctive. Such an experience is difficult to match; it gives the business a unique position that sets it apart. It is its competitive advantage.

When businesses provide a unique customer experience, they are said to be providing a branded customer experience. The experience and the brand promises are at par and promises made are kept. Such businesses are intentional about their customers’ experience. They are also intentional about making their customer experience their source of competitive advantage. Being Intentional requires that the focus on the customer and on the experience is not by accident. When businesses are deliberate about their desired experience, they define it, they plan it, and they live it day in day out. By seeking feedback from their customers, they continuously improve the experience. This results to happier customers, happier staff, and happier shareholders. If you want to improve customer attraction and retention, invest more not only in a differentiated customer experience.

Being innovative also helps businesses make customer experience their greatest competitive advantage. Today, businesses are finding new ways of serving customers. Many businesses have invested in multiple customer service channels. Having web portals, customer hotline numbers, chatbots, robots, use of social media platforms, use of artificial intelligence etc have seen the birth of innovative ways to serve the customers. Other smart businesses are using self-service platforms as an alternative to improve their overall customer experience. Innovation remains the secret weapon that businesses need to use to differentiate themselves. If you want to differentiate your customer experience, seek new ways of serving your customers. This is the easiest way to make your customer experience unique.

Is yours a service business? How are you differentiating your business? Are you deliberate about your customers’ experiences? Is your customer experience a source of competitive advantage? If customer experience is not your competitive advantage what action will you take today? It is possible that the market will become saturated with similar products. If you do not take any action, your business will lag behind. It is also possible that your competitors will match your price or even offer a lower price. Consider customer experience as a major source of sustainable competitive advantage. Take action today. Be intentional, be innovative, be unique!

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