So the other day, I had issues with my current ISP provider and I picked up the phone and called the customer care line to have them find a solution to the problem and the response was nothing short of going on a trip to Hawaii and being told you will have to join a long queue before you can have access to the beach.
I am sure there are so many people who have witnessed the same treatment as I have across different product/service providers and often times we are put on hold, passed around from one representative to another, end up repeating the same information to all of them, and yet never get an immediate solution to the problem. What then is the point? Companies can create enemies for themselves by setting standards (that never gets met) for the brand through shoddy customer service.
In Nigeria, there’s a lot of hype from brands about their passion for the customer; from popular advertising slogans, used in the Telecoms, Banking and FMCG industries, one finds a lot of spend on “much ado about nothing” on ads that ‘praise-sing’ the customer.
In reality, do companies really care about the customer?
Are they really concerned about the impact of their communications on the customer? Do they really care if product pricing aligns with the needs of the customer or if their product meets consumers’ standards and fit into their daily lives and experiences?
There is a great disconnect between the value the average consumer gets from the brand and what the brand actually ends up presenting.
Different customer satisfaction studies have shown that more customers have affinity for brands that rate higher on customer satisfaction parameters and attributes than with those that have great products. Having a great product or brand is one key winning marketing strategy. However, ensuring that all stakeholders at all levels interacting with the product or service is happy is a more sustainable winning strategy. From internal stakeholders all through the value chain to the end consumer, satisfying the customer creates an overarching effect for the company’s bottom line.
Customers do not want to be taken for granted. Taking them for granted would mean you don’t care whether or not they take their money and loyalty to competition. What is more important to the consumer is the feeling, that they are getting their monies worth from using your product or service.
Companies need to move their brands from just meeting basic needs to ‘bonding with the customer’, and this would involve taking time to create a ‘WOW’ experience. This emotive benefit, which Brand Managers like to refer to as the ‘brand experience’ should entail a companies’ ability to look beyond the functionality of its brand to balancing it with an emotional experience that leaves the customer coming back for more each time.
The average Nigerian consumer wants to feel like he matters and is taken into consideration when the brand is being created.
How can companies create an unforgettable ‘experience’ with their brand?
Authorize the Brand Bearers
A company or brand may care about its customers but may not have the ability or ‘know how’ to show care. A company’s staff or employees are its “brand bearer”, there is a need to empower them to engage with and interact with the customer.
Having an “Open door Policy” portrays an organization as being sensitive to its customer pain points- By encouraging employees to build relationships with the company’s customers, through an open door policy. You build a relationship of trust and open-ness with your customers and this invariably leads to a more lasting relationship as the line of communication between company and user is consistently kept open.
Most often times there is enough data just sitting within a company and one finds that no one bothers to look at it, or sometimes it is inaccessible. Companies should endeavour to create a process that can help trace or support “a single truth around the customer’s notion” of the company or brand functionality by sieving through internal customer data or generating external data that will give desired customer insights. The insights generated from these data are usually invaluable in helping the company correct issues and anomalies that it may have overlooked from daily interactions with its customers.
As stated above, finding insights about experiences customers have with our brands helps us to recognize the gap between helping customers meet their needs through our products, goods and services and what are the customers’ situations and feelings when they interact with our brands. Ultimately, this can be the motivation for incorporating unique brand experiences into the interactions that they have with the organization, because most of the time customers can tell, the feelings you have for them whenever they interact with the brand through existing customer touch-points.
More companies in Nigeria, asides from a few multinationals, lack processes for dealing or handling certain customer issues. How can a company without a customer centred process solve customer issues? I would say that a lack of process or poor processes may lead to confusion and lack of problem solving. Companies or brands can become more customer-focused by having clearly outlined processes for dealing with customer issues.
Every customer has a different perspective and idea about how they interact with a brand or company. Change is constant and things are always evolving and no matter how hard you try you will never have 100% of your customers happy.
So how do you empower your staff, integrate data, generate insights and set up solid processes?
By realizing that the desire to please the customer and help them with their individual problem is the key to customer loyalty.
Let the customer know how much value you place on them by providing them with necessary information to make informed decisions that will ultimately translate to bottom-line growth for the organization and increase what I refer to as ‘a customer love bond’.