“Destinations change with directions”this was quoted by a famous public and motivational speaker by the name Jim Rohn,an American who went from being broke at the age of 26 to being a multi millionaire at the age of 30 by changing his way of thinking and his actions.
I am the kind of person who thinks that I have my future figured out and I usually have a list of things set out to do during the day in order to get the best out of the entire twenty four hours,however this never used to be the case,for instance when I was a kid all I ever wanted to do when I grew up was to become a pilot and travel the world for free as I also bring out the smiles of my accompanying hostesses when I welcome them into the plane with that Boys to Men deep voice,I also loved the idea that flying gives you the sense of freedom just like a bird. However in high school I didn’t seem to work as hard as I would have wanted as a kid to meet the set of requirements for an aviation course.
As I got to my teens I started asking myself one simple question,birds have the ability to earn a living in Africa and spend their nights in the States or Europe but why would they want to set up a nest and raise a family in a lonesome tree crowded by other birds? Now that am all grown up I think I might be getting the idea,security and comfort feel much better than exploration and getting out of your comfort zone.
As I was maturing my level of intelligence rose and my ambitions changed,though the knowledge application was a bit challenging,at some point I wanted to be one of those club mix master bartenders,you know the kind who always have well toned bodies with tattoos and get you excited by how artistically they throw the bottles of whisky and tequila in the air just to make you a well balanced glass of a Jamaican sunrise. The reason I wanted this was that education was not fulfilling my inner desires,also I liked the idea of attracting all the pretty girls and increase my customer traffic in the bar I would be working for thus building my brand value. In my mind ,since I had not gotten the grades to become a pilot,the strategy was to have a bar and have all the town divas and celebrities flock my joint because hey,I had found my unique selling proposition and thus make a decent living.
As per this I came to learn that adapting to change is the key to progress and brand differentiation,casting ideas into stone especially for customer service and experience may lead to the topple over of an organisation by a sleeker,smaller more agile company that is always willing to bend over backwards to maintain customer satisfaction and acquire new clientele,as the same speaker Jim Rohn said success and failure from constant service experiments are inseparable twins joined at the hips.
Changing customer oriented policies and beta testing them only allows you that room to know what works and what doesn’t and in the end guess who will be glad to spend their hard earned money on your products or services if all goes well?
Have you ever paused for a second just to think what your golden goose is? For instance for a farmer it is his farm, for an Uber Driver it’s her car and for a business it’s the all important customer,both internal and external. Just to define and explain a little bit further I will give the brief version of the story. Once there was this poor couple living in the hills of Scotland. One day a visitor came and presented to them a goose and just told them to take care of it as if it was their own child and they will reap the rewards,they were surprised at this gesture because no one ever seemed to care about them not even say hello but this stranger gave them a gift better yet it was the only thing he had to his name.
In all their desperation the father being the head of the home suggested that they should slaughter it to have their immediate gratification of getting food,however the wife was against it and advised the husband on the same luckily he was timid and grateful to the wife for constantly being there with him that he listened. On the following day as the wife was feeding the goose she discovered that it had laid a golden egg, at this point I am sure you can tell the sigh of relief she had and the joy that was flowing within their hearts after this good news was shared. They sold it the next day at the market and that’s how their path to wealth started.
Years down the line when they were rich beyond measure the husband’s initial thought came back however,this time it was not out of necessity but out of greed, why shouldn’t we slaughter the animal and take out all the eggs that she has tucked away deep within her system? He thought. This time without consulting the wife,since his ego had gotten the best of him,slaughtered the animal only to discover that there were no golden eggs. His lamentation to the wife was beyond thought and this extended to a divorce from the wife and that came with the division of his wealth. He resorted to alcoholism and am sure we all know how fast that can take your wealth away.
Now think of this how many times do large companies get beaten by smaller ones because they never listened to their internal customers,the staff members? When was the last time you as a top level manager sat down with your staff members to discuss their needs and growths apart from during promotions or demotions? How many talents does the company loose when it gets greedy? And what’s the cost impact of getting and training new staff members?How much value will you get when you practice your company values as envisioned from the get go?
The question now becomes; WHAT’S YOUR GOLDEN GOOSE AND WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO MAINTAIN IT?
Being an avid lover of hang outs with friends preferably in clubs I have come across a number of interesting stories. Picture this what are your expectations when you are willing to spend at least five thousand Kenyan shillings in one single night at a club that you budgeted for since the beginning of the month?
On Fridays I rarely can keep calm from morning, now imagine this was one of those Fridays when your salary just checked in,the weather was amazing,my lunch was a kilogram of barbecued beef and an ugali chunk the size of a three liter bottle. In my head the only thing that kept playing in a loop was one slang sentence ‘issa party tonight’. At exactly five o’clock, it was time to check out of the professional world and check into the world of hot women,flashing lights and best of all a refreshing cold bottle of Tusker Cider and that came just after shots of tequila which in my world are supposed to kick-start the body’s thirst engines.
So I walked from the office to this new club along Moi avenue, I hope that you realise I am speaking for many young middle-income men in the city of Nairobi who don’t have cars but love to have a good time plus it’s easier to get an Uber after all the fun just to keep everyone else safe, and my goodness stewardesses were stunning,if one of my crazy friends would have dared me to,I would probably have left my wallet and house keys with them just so I could steal glances at them tending to tables and walk around the whole place however,the downside was with all their admirable physical features they were just standing around looking pretty,and as you can tell by now my focus had travelled to the moon and got stuck there trying to find a way to get a cold beer.
I waited for close to thirty minutes when this young lass with a Tusker Malt shirt came up to me and asked me if I was served, I politely said no after which she proceeded on to take the order,the worst was yet to come,she went on and asked me for the money before the products were delivered. At this moment in time I got really confused because first of all I thought that that was an obnoxious question since my table was empty and second of all was the fact that she never flashed a smile at me and the worst part was that she could not keep tabs of her customers and tables she was tending to. Right after she walked away I started interrogating myself whether I was the handsome man I always thought I was or all the beauty I had was internal,however though I asked for the double shots of tequila just to get over my confusion and then ciders to get back my smile after the face you make when taking neat shots of anything. My night ended at the bottom of the last cider bottle and I left for home a partially disappointed and an emotionally bruised man.
By the time I was getting home the only things I could think about were,was it worth it to visit the club? Do I need to change my life decisions? Should I change my priorities and just party in the house with my dogs?
All of this because the stewardesses did not meet my expectations as a client.
This day is definitely going to be a good day, that’s how I always start my morning and this Tuesday was not going to be any different. I was gearing up mentally to get a job and you know based on the various laws of the universe you have to align your goals to the values and emotions you feel deep inside. I had not landed a gig yet however I was being extremely possessed with the idea of having an NHIF and NSSF card, how much security and responsibility would this guarantee me in the now and future? These were some of the questions running in my mind as I grinned my way to the bus stop.
Being the new Kenya I would easily access these documents from our new found convenience havens called Huduma centres, as you can tell by now I was ecstatic and am a huge fun of the Waiguru’s project, don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to align myself politically by any chance, on arrival I get assistance with getting two small ticket numbers based on my needs and a rather new seat was pointed at by the attendant for me to go and warm it. I waited for about an hour when I went to the NSSF desk only to be hit by the reality that I need to pay, at the time I was broke and by that mean I only had two hundred Kenyan shillings. I laughed it off and went outside acting as if I was heading to an Mpesa agent. Did I come back? NO, was I a happy young man? NO and in my head did the day turn out as good as I wish it would? DEFINITELY NOT.
In the face of all this if I was to rate my experience I would probably give it a number below zero. The problem is this is replicated across all businesses in the country and beyond, much of the time we focus on Customer service and forget about The Customer Experience. Let me digress, the difference is that one is Reactive and the other is Proactive. To illustrate this a customer service officer will include such words as thank you and please in their statements whereas a customer experience officer will ask such questions as how is your day?
In my case I wish the officer attending to me at the ticketing booth would go that extra mile of trying to explain to me what needs to be done from my end to ensure that the flow of things are quick and fast. Imagine how efficient it would have been if you go in, explained to all the terms and conditions to be applied per service, wouldn’t that be easier and less time spent in processing. The point here is to allow and empower all that are involved to go in chest first and exceed clients’ expectations, to be honest I personally expected much but got less and abit.
How wonderful would it have been if I managed to get all the documents within that same hour I waited? Imagine what I would have written today? In light of the moment though it still ended up being a good day because well I chose to remove the fly out of my soup and continue enjoying the best things in life, such as saying hello to my then crash.
There is a saying that says “People will forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel” This is significant today in relation to the customer experience being our focus. Let’s take a good example, if you constantly purchase flowers or a box of chocolates for your lady what outcome do you think you shall get in the long run? Let me give it a guess your better half will be loyal, caring, unassuming and overall happy and comfortable being around you and making things happen for you.
Now imagine having a business that knows most, if not all of their customers’ expectations, and is constantly striving to fulfill them either using the KAIZEN method (for the purposes of our younger readers, this is where small improvements are made constantly or in bits to come up with a total revamp or new way of doing things or product or lifestyle or knowledge acquisition in the long run good example of this is Toyota) or the abrupt update of structures of service delivery and tick at least eight out of the ten satisfaction boxes and enhance their clients’ experience, how much more do you think the clients will be willing to be brand ambassadors, loyal customers or better still avid spenders on your products or services?
There’s also another saying that states it’s never been a problem for a customer to spend a million Kenyan shillings on a pen, they just need to be assured that when they write with it they will feel like a king signing a cheque to build his queen a walk-in closet (sorry I just made that up based on what I have seen going on at Little Red and their Brioni suits). The one golden rule is to ensure that you satisfy a client’s initial need and expectation and it will be that much easier to sell them a different idea at a higher price and they will not flinch.
By striving to create an experience in a customer there’s one very important thing you as a business or an individual is trying to build, it is called TRUST. Just like in our initial example of a man taking care of his lady, I would like you to imagine how exactly she will feel when she has the perception that you as a man value her, take some time off to appreciate her and best of all putting in some work to show her how much she means to you and all the magic she brings to you. Will she hold back? Just a wild guess I don’t think she will.
Have you ever asked yourself why Coke as a brand has managed to have such avid long time customers as Warren Buffet? Based on the research it is because he feels energetic and ready to go every single time he has a bottle in the morning (or maybe it’s just because he has some stake in it and he is doing large scale advertising). So look at this for a minute, what as a business are you out to achieve? Let’s face it you are out to make as much profit as possible while leaving legendary performance statistics on the ground and since the world is on that fast tracked evolution curve leave it as a much greener better place than you found it, and who will make you do this? THE CUSTOMER who in my world is KING.
All in all who would not want that kingly or queenly feeling deep inside of them every time you look at a product or reminisce about a service that you received in a hotel that you never thought had such services?
What’s customer service? That’s the first question I ask myself every single time I interact with a business on a personal level or another human being whether it’s the first time we meet or I indulge in their products.
In the evolving world of today, social media and social skills dominate at every level for example interviews have changed for most predominantly successful companies, they do background checks and do psychological analysis on the interview date or during a phone interview. They do this in order to ensure that they obtain the best out of the human beings personalities which will inturn reflect on their ideals as a firm and thus attracting a client base.
For instance try and call up Safaricom in my opinion they have developed such an intriguing self care menu that beats almost all companies in Kenya as at the moment, these services range from retrieving your PUK to activating your voice phone lock system. In my world it can’t get any better than this, in retrospect imagine being kept on hold for five minutes only to be told that the customer care representative is busy or worse yet they have no sense of coordination one representative will give you a totally different response to the next.
As companies seek to grow both in revenues and client satisfaction ratings they need to have a deeper look into how their clients are treated, managed and finally satisfied. The most important question to ponder over might be: WHAT EMOTION DO WE EVOKE IN OUR CLIENTS? From our earlier overview we noted that the world is fast changing and today’s consumers are more interested in being valued rather than being driven by the need to have a product or service.
By any means this is not a text book guide on how to go about one’s business or develop their structures but more of an open minded discussion to unlock certain elements of the business. For example did you know that your first clientele base are your employees? Just think about it for a second, you are selling let’s say insurance products why should an employee who has just bought a new car continue paying premiums at the same rate every year yet the car keeps depreciating? Is there need to be flexible enough to attract even your own staff members? Imagine having a staff base of 200, each paying premiums that match the depreciating rates of their assets? Aren’t you assured 200 clients every year? Now double that number assuming they each tell a friend? How much secure revenue are you assured of by doing just that?
Some of these questions and answers lie deep within us we just need to focus on our natural empathetic nature as human beings, because after all said and done we are all meant to provide more use value than monetary value.
This all leads me to the same question I started with: WHAT IS CUSTOMER SERVICE?
Thanks for joining me!
This being my first blog am not really sure how it is going to end but all I know is a prelude into the world of an internal and external customer through his own eyes and perception.
It is a first of many and a short WELCOME for the hopefully large masses and the surrounding corporate giants to get a deeper meaning into satisfaction and a much heavier burden they have to carry in the quest of customer satisfaction and unforgettable experience.
And with that the red ribbon is cut and let the games begin. Cheers……..!!!!!
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton