As it appeared in the Daily Nation on Nov 10th 2015
The customer experience continues to receive overwhelming spotlight from across business circles. Most executives globally are today interested in the customer experience more than ever before. They recognize that the customer is not only contributing to the top line but is also crucial for the long-term survival of the business. In addition, such executives know too well that the customer has a choice and if growing expectations are not met, customer attrition maybe evident.
This new era of the Customer experience can simply be described by VUCA the term coined by the US army to mean a Volatility, Ambiguity, Complexity and Uncertainty. Customer expectations keep changing; they are vague and are indeed hard to comprehend. What one customer wants is not what another one wants. As a result many organizations across the globe have learnt to be agile and many are treating each customer as a unique individual with unique needs. However, many are still grumbling with the numbing complexity of the customer experience and doing very little about it. Only time will reveal the repercussions of such inaction.
On the contrary though, many organizations from across the globe are having customer experience discussions in the board room. They are seeking ways to unravel the customer experience by making it easy for customers at every point of interaction and connecting with customers at the emotional level. Many are focusing on self service through use of technology and online integration of the front end and the back end is becoming the norm. This is not only giving the customer control over the experience but it is also minimizing the human interactions that yield inconsistencies in the experience.
Right here in Kenya the customer experience is slowly creeping from the frontline into its rightful place, the boardroom. It is no longer about training the frontline staff; it is about having the customer experience as a core pillar driving the business’s strategic direction. It is also about supporting the strategy with a healthy culture, the best people, the right structure and appropriate processes. This can only happen if the executives understand and appreciate that without the customer there is no business. Globally this is seen in the legacy of chief executives such as the late Walt Disney of Disney, Sam Walton of Wal-Mart John Nordstrom of Nordstrom and current day customer experience advocates at the executive level such as Jeff Bezzo of Amazon.com, Richard Branson of Virgin, Tony Hsieh of Zappos, and Patrick Doyle of Domino’s among others. I have been scratching my head and wondering which top CEOs in Kenya I would add to this list and I can simply say that only time will tell. As our industries mature, the role of the customer experience in customer retention will be more evident.
Having spoken to Customer Experience experts from across the world; the future of Customer Experience looks extremely bright. Marketing or Public Relations will no longer the battlefields, the battle will be won by those that put the customer experience first and at the core of their existence. Only business leaders that commit to the customer inside out will live and leave a worthy legacy. It can no longer be all about talk or HashTags, action must be seen to support the new era of the customer experience.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy