How to keep cus­tomers happy

Bad ser­vice is a ma­jor li­a­bil­ity. Competition is fierce and if you don’t pro­vide cus­tomers with ex­cel­lent ser­vice, they will dump you af­ter lam­bast­ing your brand via so­cial me­dia. We look at sure-fire ways to win your clients’ loy­alty.

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY -

of years ago, many peo­ple bought their ser­vices and food on open mar­kets. When the fish was not to your lik­ing, you could yell at the use­less fish­mon­ger in pub­lic, and im­me­di­ately spread the word among your fel­low mar­ket-go­ers. Pretty soon, the fish­mon­ger won’t have cus­tomers. This all changed with the emer­gence of the shop, and later, the shop­ping mall. Bad ser­vice be­came a soli­tary ex­pe­ri­ence; you had to fight the store man­ager, or maybe the ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive, over the phone.

En­ter the dig­i­tal age, and es­sen­tially we’re back on the open mar­ket again. Through so­cial me­dia, you can voice your dis­sat­is­fac­tion to a large au­di­ence of po­ten­tial clients. Mass mar­ket­ing cam­paigns are be­com­ing less ef­fec­tive: clients are by­pass­ing com­pa­nies and shar­ing their user ex­pe­ri­ence and neg­a­tive in­for­ma­tion about your prod­ucts or ser­vices in an in­stant.

This is a huge risk to any busi­ness, and keep­ing cus­tomers happy has never been as cru­cial to the sus­tain­abil­ity of a com­pany.

Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence are key for any com­pany that is se­ri­ous about its clients.

Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion (which in­cludes cus­tomer ser­vice) refers to the dif­fer­ence be­tween what con­sumers ex­pect from a prod­uct or ser­vice, com­pared to what they think they ac­tu­ally re­ceived, says Adré Schreuder, CEO of the busi­ness re­search group Con­sulta and ex­tra­or­di­nary pro­fes­sor in mar­ket­ing re­search at the Uni­ver­sity of Pretoria. Schreuder is also founder and chair of the South African Cus­tomer Sat­is­fac­tion In­dex (SAcsi), which mea­sures how happy clients are with com­pa­nies.

“Cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion has a sci­en­tif­i­cally proven high im­pact on the fu­ture growth of a busi­ness,” he says. Cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence is a more re­cent devel­op­ment and takes it to an even more de­tailed level, which fo­cuses on how clients en­joyed each mo­ment of their in­ter­ac­tion with a com­pany (or not), says Schreuder. Larger cor­po­ra­tions are now ap­point­ing chief cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence of­fi­cers, or chief cus­tomer of­fi­cers, who have to en­sure that ev­ery­thing the com­pany does keeps the cus­tomer in mind. Ev­ery as­pect of the com­pany – its busi­ness strat­egy, new prod­uct de­sign, pro­cesses, poli­cies, HR, risk, etc. – is an­a­lysed to see how it im­pacts and ben­e­fits the cus­tomers.

Suc­cess­ful busi­nesses have a clear cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence strat­egy, and all their ac­tiv­i­ties sup­port it, says Schreuder. “But com­pa­nies where there is a dis­con­nect be­tween the over­all busi­ness goals and how the front-line staff en­sure op­ti­mal cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence, will strug­gle.”

He cites the ex­am­ples of Capitec and In­vestec. Capitec has po­si­tioned it­self as the no-frills and low-cost bank: “Its ser­vice is quick, friendly, con­cise, and to the point. You don’t wait long, you get helped quickly, and its on­line and dig­i­tal pro­cesses give al­most im­me­di­ate credit clear­ance.” Capitec has one of the high­est cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion scores in SA, ac­cord­ing to the SAcsi.

In­vestec, which delivers a high-end, pre­mium ser­vice, also has cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion re­sults that are the best amongst high-end pri­vate banks, and is on par with and at times even higher than those of Capitec. Schreuder says In­vestec has aligned its staffing, pro­cesses and the en­tire com­pany cul­ture to its pre­mium de­liv­ery prom­ise and po­si­tion in the mar­ket. “In­vestec staff will go out of their way to de­liver on cus­tomer ex­pec­ta­tions, no mat­ter how unique the re­quest.”

Com­pa­nies that have low sat­is­fac­tion scores of­ten com­pete with low prices, but they also prom­ise their cus­tomers the world at prices that they most likely can­not de­liver, cre­at­ing more prob­lems for them­selves. “The [poorly trained] front­line staff don’t know if the ser­vice they should de­liver must be quick and con­cise or whether they must go the ex­tra mile, and pro­cesses are com­pro­mised in or­der to ac­com­mo­date irate cus­tomers whose ex­pec­ta­tions are not be­ing met,” says Schreuder. “In the end the busi­ness and the cus­tomer lose.”

What else can help de­liver con­sumer sat­is­fac­tion?

Capitec The bank has one of the high­est cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion scores in SA.

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