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Customer experience emerges as the new battlefield for companies

customer experience directly impacts a company’s top and bottom line./file

Kenya has been earmarked as one of the leading emerging economies in Africa to invest in. We are seeing an increasing number of international companies enter our markets, many of which actively monitor, review and improve customer experience as part of their strategic agenda.

We have various corporate clichés attached to the customer from “the customer is always right” to “the customer is king” and yet many companies still fail to provide adequate customer service, let alone exceptional customer experiences.

If our local and regional companies don’t start thinking about and investing in improving their customer experience, they are going to come out a sore second on the corporate battlefield.

Companies globally are investing significantly in customer experience. According to Gartner, 89% of companies surveyed plan to compete primarily on the basis of customer experience.

So why are companies investing so much to improve their customers’ overall experience? To put it simply, customer experience directly impacts a company’s top and bottom line.

If your customers love doing business with you, they will become your promoters and these are the types of customers that every company should nurture.

Promoters happily recommend you to family, friends, colleagues and even complete strangers through their personal networks, reducing a company’s customer acquisition costs.

Promoters are also more likely to maintain longer term relationships with you and ultimately buy more products and services over time.

They are less likely to defect (even when there have been serious issues) and are more willing to provide constructive feedback that could help you to improve your business and directly contribute to increased revenues or decreased costs.

If you look at it critically, promoters are also less costly to serve. Consider how much a disgruntled customer could cost you even before they exit the relationship – they call your help lines, inundate you with messages, potentially cause negative publicity on your social pages, file support tickets, return products and demand refunds.

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If you were to put a shilling amount to each one of these instances, the real cost could be significant.

Disgruntled customers may not even tell you about their negative experiences and will simply move their business elsewhere.According to Ruby Newell-Legner’s ‘Understanding Customers’,a typical business only hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers and 91% of the remaining 96% never come back.

Herein lays the gap.

Kenyan businesses – especially those serving mass consumer markets – need tools that would allow them to collect qualitative and quantitative feedback directly from their customers, helping them understand what they are doing well and where they need to improve. On the other hand, customers need a space where they can easily compare and contrast companies based on their customer service, and also where this data can be analysed to produce meaningful insights that will drive improvements from the same companies.

This will result in quicker and better purchasing decisions, as well as improvement of customer service levels, ultimately giving the customer better value for money.

While social media remains an important communication channel for organisations, the plethora of social media channels available makes it very difficult to draw meaningful insights from big unstructured data.

This was the thinking behind Ratemyservice, a platform that is allowing companies to collect customer experience data centrally and draw insights from it through snapshot and trend analytics, enabling them to drill down into drivers of customer experience and even benchmark themselves to their peers and competitors on a real time basis.

It will also incentivise companies to act on customer feedback because it is an independent channel that allows companies to be compared against one another on the basis of how great their customer service actually is.

In essence, digital tools have the ability to put power back in the hands of the consumer. Are our companies ready to invest and plan guided by authentic user-generated reviews? They have no choice if they hope to survive!

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Akshay Shah is the founderof Custometrix Ltd and ratemyservice.co.ke.  

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