As it appeared in the Daily Nation on October 3rd, 2017
Dear Customer, today I write a very special letter to you. First, I write to you because you are the reason business exist. Secondly, I write to you because this is your week. It is the week when a bank might polish your shoes, give you a rose flower or serve you some hot chocolate. It is the week we are supposed to take our customer experience a notch higher. Every effort this week should result to better customer experiences that go beyond Friday.
I am writing to all customers. Every person who occasionally buys a product or uses a service from another qualifies to be a customer. I am glad that we all qualify to be customers. Almost every day, we as customers buy products or use services provided by the thousands of businesses around us. We use our mobile phones, we use a matatu, a bus, a train, or an aircraft or we fuel our cars at the petrol station, we use banking services, we shop at a kiosk or at the mall, we go to the hair salon or to a barber shop or we eat at a restaurant or at a kibanda.
Dear customer, I write to you about the need to be nice to the frontline staff. These are the waiters, the cashiers, the conductors, the cabin crew, the tellers, the deliverymen, the guards, the call centre agents, and the business owners. They serve us, they give us information, they deliver our products. While in the frontline, these staff serve all kinds of people. Let us not be the kind of customers that make it difficult for these staff to serve us. Be aware that some of these staff may sometimes feel helpless. Do not blame them; talk to their managers and the business owners for help. Leadership ability is evident in what goes on at the front line.
Dear customer, I also write to remind you to be generous with your feedback. Share your feedback with businesses, whether good, bad or even ugly. Let the businesses know what you liked and what you did not like. If you do not trust the feedback boxes, call them, send an email, tweet them or post the feedback on their face book page. Better still; share your feedback with the managers and business owners in person. Let the manager know that the waiter was exceptional, that the cashier was rude, or that the products were below standard. After sharing the feedback, be glad if your feedback is taken seriously and a response given. If your feedback is ignored or dismissed, it is time to remember that the business needs you more than you need it.
Finally, dear customer, I write to remind you that you have the right to vote with your feet when the experience is below expectations. The voting I am referring to has nothing to do with the voting that will be happening soon, no. I am referring to walking away, finding another service provider and most likely never returning to mediocre businesses. When the not so smart companies consistently provide us with poor quality products and substandard service and are not willing to listen to our feedback it is time to walk away. Luckily, as customers, we are spoilt for choice in most sectors. Why keep going back to a business that does not seem interested in you? Have a Delightful Customer Service week 2017!
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy