Someone once said that you could choose any industry in Kenya, as an entrepreneur, and you’d probably make it. The only thing you need to do is provide better service… customer service. Many industries and/or sectors are yet to muster the art of customer service.
Take a moment and think about the industry you want to venture into. The reason you are probably thinking about it is due to something dissatisfying you experienced. You probably feel there is lack of a wholesome experience as a customer and if you provided that, you’d gain an advantage over the competition.
Various industries in Kenya operate in a time long gone in history. This is the Pre-marketing Era where organisations were focussed on production and selling. This was a time when organisations were unresponsive to customers’ needs and all they cared about was mass production of the same product. This was all about keeping costs down.
Other industries are stuck in the Marketing Era. This was a time when organisations maximised on research to understand consumer behaviour. There was a problem though as trying to change this needed a fundamental shift in operations. The best they could do during this time was customise in mass. Further, the service element was still lacking.
Is the phrase “goods once sold not returnable” familiar? This has been so ingrained in our culture that we may be the most sceptical consumers around. There are things I still can’t buy online; I feel the innate need to confirm the legitimacy of its source i.e. has to be an original item else suffer the consequence of buying a fake. Yeah, so once you buy, that’s it! We are done. Yet, we as consumers need assurance that once we buy something, I can receive necessary support for a considerable period of time.
This is where you as an entrepreneur can maximise in your venture. This has been given several references such as Customer Experience and Holistic Marketing. As the older organisations are still stuck in times from the distant past with rigid structure, you can take advantage of being small to create a business that grows on flexibility.
Creating the Customer Experience
How then can you approach creating a business focussed on the customer experience? Understand that at the core of your business therein lies the customer. Your business should be built around the customer.
If you are building a business around your customer, you need to be clear and concise as to who your customer is. If you rush to serve every conceivable segment, you’ll be as confused and unable to create a clear identity for your brand.
Customer touchpoints are fundamental to the customer experience. Traditionally, the customers were left to front facing employees. Today, the customer experience is end-to-end. A touchpoint is basically every single point the customer may interact with. If you critically think about it, your customer may interact with virtually every element of your business. This is an opportunity to present your brand in a consistent manner to your customers and they get a wholesome experience.
Long gone are the days when organisations were the gatekeepers of information… some form of ivory tower. The digital gap locally is still wide and as a small business you can be the one to provide information online to potential searching customers. There’s abundance of statistics showing the penetration of internet enabled devices in Kenya. People are searching for information, be there for them and begin their customer experience early on. Ensure your digital marketing is up to scratch!
It never stops! Customer experience is a continuous journey that you must be invested in. You should go beyond the sale to create a relationship that creates room for value exchange. Creating and sustaining relationships with customers is part of the experience. This gives you an opportunity to capture feedback from your customers and further improve the experience. Further, such relationships create an opportunity for you to upsell other services you may have to offer.
As businesses around celebrate Customer Service Week ensure you take time to reflect that it’s not just about providing services to the customer but rather a wholesome experience. And indeed, it goes beyond any week but should be throughout.