As it appeared in the Daily Nation on April 23rd 2019
by Dr Lucy Kiruthu
Every day, we go through different experiences. An experience is what happens when we interact with one another or with a product or a service. In particular, a customer experience is expressed as a consolidation of the different interactions that customers have with a business. These interactions happen before, during or after a purchase. Customers interact with a business through its people, products or services. These interactions leave customers feeling either happy, indifferent or sad. How are your customers feeling today?
How customers feel is critical to business success and ultimate survival. Smart companies are aware of the significance of staying connected with their customers especially at the emotional level. Such companies take charge of how their customers feel. In addition, they recognize that how their customers perceive each interaction and all interactions collectively leads to either an overall positive or negative experience. At the centre of staying emotionally connected to customers is a leadership that owns customer experience and leads the agenda with one heart, one mind, and one voice. Unfortunately, many businesses both small and large seem not to really care about how their customers feel. They fail to keep promises made, give lip service to customer experience and take no action to get it better. As a result, their interactions with customers can at best be described as inferior, unpleasant, and unhealthy. I consider positive emotional connection as the main missing link in customer experience in Kenya today. Does your business really care about how your customers feel at every interaction?
Every business has the opportunity to be intentional about its customer interactions. This can be done by designing and implementing an experience that makes customers feel wanted, appreciated and respected. The starting point in this process is having a good understanding of customers’ needs both functional and emotional, their expectations and their likely feelings before, during and after a purchase. Customer emotional needs are deeply rooted in their human nature. Further, customer expectations are growing; these expectations originate from past and current experiences with diverse businesses. Once customers’ needs and expectations are clear, the leadership and the staff must commit to meet or even exceed them at every interaction. It is by so doing that customers can be assured of great experiences each time further cementing their emotional connection with the business.
Smart companies are proactive in addressing the missing emotional link in customer experience. They are aware that happy customers share their positive experiences and return for more. They also recognize that indifference during interactions leads to passive customers who feel little or no connection with the business. Finally, they know that negative experiences result to displeasure and a customer who has had such an experience may express dissatisfaction by complaining or walk away never to return. Such companies consider how their customers feel important. Are you ready to address the missing link in customer experience? Are you ready to make customers feel happy and great about being your customers? What action will you take moving forward?
Dr. Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy