ELEVATING TO THE NEXT LEVEL Marie-Therese Phido
I have a sister-in-law who flies by Qatar Airways irrespective of where she is going to in the world despite the fact that its hub is in the Middle East. She has no problem tacking on the additional seven to eight hours to her trip that would normally take six hours on a direct flight to Europe because of how the airline makes her feel. She says: “They treat me like a queen and meet all my needs.”
Maya Angelou said: “People will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” My sister-in-law feels so good that she is now a walking agency for the airline. She has converted the whole family to travelling on the airline and those of us yet to use them are planning to, same with her friends. My sister-in-law is well travelled and has used many of the best airlines globally but swears by her preferred airline.
The question is, how do we make our customers and clients feel? Do they want to come back again and again? Do they tell other people about the great experience they enjoyed using our services or products? I always tell my clients that customer experience is everything, difficult to copy and replicate.
It takes you away from the pack and cannot be commoditised.
It is clear that power has moved to the hands of the consumers. Organisations focusing on traditional means of selling and marketing their products are falling short and shooting themselves in the foot. Organisations need to start branding their customer touch points. What makes your customer touch points exceptional?
I went to a bank recently and found the experience from the gate to the Executive’s office I had a meeting with exceptional. It felt like I was in a “five star” hotel. The ambience was conducive, the receptionist was courteous and treated me with kindness and respect, the security personnel was impeccable and effective. I felt good, like royalty and was compelled to send a mail to the CEO commending the positive and pleasant quality of customer service I experienced. However, I wonder how I will feel if I interact with the other channels of the bank (deposit services, internet, etc). Will it be as pleasant?
The Gartner group says, “89% of businesses expect to compete on customer experience in 2016 and the number 1 challenge to overcome for leaders working on customer experience is to create a customer first culture.”
In the course of my work in professional services, when discussing the need for reviewing customer experience, the above requirement to create a customer first culture was daunting to most Executives. This is because, they know that changing their organisations and making it customer experience focused would be very painful in the short term because it will require process changes across the organisation, and change is one of the most difficult to achieve.
But, it is clear that customer experience has never been more important to businesses for the following reasons:
• Organisations that do not have a culture of focusing on customers and their changing needs may be left behind. “Only those that develop a customer centric culture will remain relevant.”
• Customer experience is what will show differentiation in this era of commoditisation. Service and product organisations are all almost doing the same thing, where the only differentiating factor will be how you make your customers feel.
• According to David Strom, customer experience will help organisations reduce at-risk revenue by recovering potentially lost customers, engage existing customers as a sustainable engine for growth, reduce the cost of new customer acquisition, engage employees – reduce staff turnover and cost of hiring as well as reduce the cost of customer and employee feedback infrastructure.
To stand out from the pack and competition, organisations need to start challenging and boldly reviewing customer touch points from the gate to the Boardroom and everywhere in between.
To ensure that they either remain at the top or ascend to the top tier headship in their industry. Leadership needs to constantly ask the question “how do we make our customers feel and what changes can we make, if not positive”? Answers to this question, must then be rigorously implemented for continued relevance, because the Customer is King.
Marie-Therese Phido is Sales & Market Strategist and Business Coach
Email: email@example.com; tweeter handle @osat2012; Tel: 08090158156 (text only)