As it appeared in the Daily Nation of August 5th
by Lucy Kiruthu
I am glad to resume and ready to share with you regular insights from the field of customer service. During my just concluded customer service study tour, I had a chance hold a conversation with Shep Hyken a luminary in the field of customer service. In the last 30 years Shep has been working with many companies who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees in the United States of America.
The various customer interactions I had left me with mixed feelings. On one end were organizations such a CACHÉ clothing store going all out to make the customer experience painless and on the other hand was United Airlines staff that seemed to care less. What did Shep Hyken have to say about the customer service levels in the USA, could it be getting worse? Certainly not, Shep quoted Barak Eilam CEO of NICE who at a recent conference in Las Vegas had said “Customer service isn’t getting worse. Customer service is getting harder.” He was of the same opinion, customer service is not getting worse it is getting harder.
There is no doubt that customer service levels across the globe have improved tremendously in the last 20 years. Many organizations continue to spend more time, more effort and more resources to make it easier for their customers to do business with them. Unfortunately though, customer feedback does not seem to have improved in equal proportion. Many customers continue to express their dissatisfaction with their banks, airlines, retail stores, fast foods etc. Customer service excellence is an uphill task for many. The bar has been raised by those organizations that are very keen on creating loyal customers. The fact that today’s customers are more informed and are expecting more means that it will continue to take more effort for organizations to deliver an experience that is worth coming back for.
How can your organization prepare to meet these growing customer expectations? In the 15 years that I have worked in the field of customer service, I have witnessed organizations prepare differently. One thing though that has stood out is that those organizations that have a leadership that is clear on the kind of customer experience they wish to create rarely go wrong. Does your CEO lead the way in creating a culture of service excellence? Is your customer service thinking defined from the top or is it left to the front line staff to decide? Having clarity at the top is always the starting point. Tony Hsieh of Zappos, Richard Branson of Virgin, Jeff Bezzo of Amazon, Cesar Ritz of The Ritz-Carlton, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart among others have had one thing in common, they have made the customer experience core to everything they do. Do we have such leaders yet in Kenya? Only time will tell. In the next few weeks I will share more insights on how to prepare for a future that seems to favour the customers. In the meantime remember, if you keep getting better at serving your customers and meeting their expectations, they will feel it! If you get worse, your customers will leave you without even uttering a word!