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The Customer Of The Future

Meet the Customer of the Future

Gen Y

The ‘Millennial Generation’, also known as ‘Generation Y’ is broadly defined as people born between 1980 and 2000.

There are approximately 2 billion millennials globally, 87% of whom live in emerging markets 1. As they enter the workforce and build their careers, millennials are fast becoming the number one source of global income, wealth and spending, positioning them at the heart of the economically active population.

This is a new generation that has different characteristics, different needs and a different set of values to those who came before it. Millennials interact with the world in a completely different way to their parents or grandparents.

They are the ‘digital first’ generation and have grown up with computers, email, mobile phones, and the Internet, as an integral and accepted part of their everyday life.

This has made them digitally savvy consumers, who want to do business the same way they live, surrounded by easy and efficient solutions. The rise of the millennial generation has caused major disruption in a number of industries as the millennial consumer redefines the way we live, work, play and consume.

Gen Z

It should be noted that arriving on the heels of millennials is the more recent ‘Generation Z’. These are individuals who were born post 2000 and are still somewhere between their infant and teenage years.

While this new generation shares many of the tech-focused characteristics of millennials, they are much more pronounced, as Gen Z is a digital native generation. While millennials may still remember the early stages of the Internet and cellphones, Gen Z will not remember a time before the iPhone or Facebook.

Who are the millennials and what do they want?

As with any generation, there are a number of generalized characteristics that have been attributed to millennials.

While much of the talk about millennials is anecdotal and subject to clichés, contradictions and criticisms, some of the most widely agreed-upon characteristics that are shaping the millennial generation include:

They are always-on

Growing up with the Internet, computers, email and mobile phones has made millennials extremely competent when it comes to utilising technology to address their needs. They spend a lot of time online and on their phones and are always-on and always available. They live a fast-paced technology-enabled lifestyle, where every piece of information they need is at their fingertips.

They are multi-channel

Millennials demand a high level of stimulus in order to capture and retain their attention. They are comfortable multi-tasking and will often interact with multiple screens at once, for example watching TV and browsing on a smartphone at the same time. They have no problem being on more than one channel and can divide their attention between different screens concurrently.

They are knowledge driven

Millennials are often seen as more skeptical compared to other generations. According to research only 19% of millennials believe that, generally speaking, people can be trusted 2. Because of this millennials are more likely to engage in ‘self-education’, using online tools to do thorough research into subjects of their choice.

They are socially and environmentally conscious

Millennials are more racially diverse and more inclusive than the generations that came before them. They are likely to support and spread the word about causes they care about and rally behind social issues3.

Millennials also consider the environment a major and pressing issue in today’s society and are more likely to be pro-renewable energy and sustainable development.

They are social

Millennials were the first generation to utilize and grow up with social media and are three times more likely to have their own blog or personal website than non-millennials4. They have few qualms about sharing the intimate details of their life online and are adept at building online networks and communities around themselves and their interests.

They are self-centric

Millennials are often seen as a more selfish generation and have been dubbed the ‘me generation’ and the ‘selfie generation’. This perception is partly driven by their tendency to share and curate every aspect of their lives on social media. It is also seen in their heightened ambition and focus on personal success. Many millennials are actively pursuing careers while at the same time staying single for longer, delaying marriage and choosing to have children later than any previous generation.

Millennials in Africa

While millennials are generally thought of as a global phenomenon, it is important to consider the unique aspects of African millennials that may differentiate them from their international counterparts.

Increased access to global media has contributed towards a trend of more culturally integrated values and viewpoints, creating a ‘one world culture’ that is shared by all millennials globally. This results in many African millennials having more in common with their international counterparts than with their parents and grandparents.

Serving the Customer of the Future: is your Business Ready?

While one cannot predict the future, it is possible to prepare for it. With the pace of technological innovation only set to increase, companies need to be ready to serve a new digital-savvy consumer.

Customer-led Engagements

In the past, consumer engagement followed a linear framework that was pushed from the company to the customer. The millennial consumer, however, exists in an ecosystem of multidirectional engagement.

In the new digital reality, interactions with customers are no longer driven by the business. The interaction now occurs on the customer’s terms, through the customer’s channel of choice, at any time the customer wants.

Millennial customers are always-on and expect their product and service providers to be the same. In short, it is a customer-led engagement not a business-led engagement.

The interaction between a business and its customers can no longer just be corporately defined. In order to serve the new generation of customers, businesses must develop a deeper understanding of what customers want. Millennials like to feel heard by the businesses they engage with and are quick to give feedback and offer product and service suggestions. They also want to know that their feedback has been seen, acknowledged and actioned in some way.

Millennials live in a world of constant and instant communication. If they send an email or social media message, they expect a near real-time response, and if they do not receive one, they will assume something is wrong.

This immediacy can make them less patient when interacting with a business and makes them less likely to choose traditional channels of contact such as a call centre, or going in to a branch, where there may be queues or long wait times.

Instead, millennials are more likely to choose digital forms of communication such as email, live chats, instant messaging, or social media platforms. This allows them to get an immediate response with the least amount of disruption.

Companies must therefore be willing and able to speak to the millennial customer at any time and any place. The business must be as ‘always-on’ as the consumer is and show its capability to field input and enquires across a range of channels and provide feedback and assistance in real time.

From Mobile-first to Mobile-only

Another important aspect of serving customers of the future, is being able to talk to them through their channel of choice. Millennials are known to be a mobile-first generation, reaching for their smartphones as a primary contact point for their communication, research and transaction needs, and switching to another channel as the need arises (such as completing an online purchase through a desktop computer, or going into a store).

Within the millennial generation and with the Gen Z consumers who will follow them, there is a shift happening from mobile-first to mobile-only. As smartphones become more powerful and more ubiquitous, millennial consumers are expecting increasing functionality out of them.

The idea that a customer’s first and only contact with a company could be happening entirely through the smartphone interface is one that has emerged in recent years with the success of new, digital, app-driven businesses (for example Uber).

This trend is particularly important in Africa, where traditional broadband connectivity does not have the same penetration as in the US or Europe, which means that mobile is often not just the default, but the only online channel available to many millennial consumers. Many companies, however, still consider ‘mobility’ a siloed task for the IT or marketing department and are not looking at how to develop it as a complete customer channel for the business. Companies need to be asking themselves whether they can provide a fully end-to-end, mobile-only customer journey.

1Generation Next: Millennial Primer – Bank of America – 2015

2Generation Next: Millennial Primer – Bank of America – 2015

3Curalate – Marketing to Millennials – 2015

4Generation Next: Millennial Primer – Bank of America – 2015

 

SEAMLESS SERVICE. SIXTY SECOND. SNIPPETS

GLOBAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE MANAGEMENT MARKET TRENDS IN A SNAPSHOT

The global customer experience management market is expected to grow from USD 5.06 Billion in 2016 to USD 13.18 Billion by 2021, at a CAGR of 21.1% during the forecast period. The primary drivers for the CEM market include increasing need to manage customer experience throughout the customer journey, need of retaining customers, providing competitive differentiation, and increasing e-commerce and m-commerce.

Among all touchpoints, the mobile segment is expected to grow at the highest rate during the forecast period. Mobile phones are used to access personal account information, conduct purchase transactions, receive service alerts, and request calls. In CEM, mobile phones play an important role in collecting customer feedback.

Among verticals, the manufacturing sector is expected witness the highest growth during the forecast period. This growth is primarily attributed to the focus of manufacturing companies on retaining existing and acquiring new customers. This sector also faces the challenge of increasing operational costs, economic fluctuations, and price wars. To tackle these issues, the manufacturing sector has adopted CEM solutions, which enable companies to optimize their workforce and decrease operational costs, thereby enriching customer experience across varied locations and touchpoints.

Among regions, Asia-Pacific is expected to grow at the highest rate during the forecast period. This growth is mainly attributed to the rapid growth in smartphone adoption and increasing e-commerce and m-commerce. Branch/store, mobile, and social media are the top three touchpoints in the Asia-Pacific region. This region has experienced a huge increase in smartphone users and this adoption rate is expected to grow during the forecast period. It has also fueled online mobile shopping and social media usage. Hence, organizations in this region are primarily focusing on increasing customer experience for mobile and social media touchpoints.

Some of the factors restraining the customer experience management market growth are complexity in data synchronization and subjective expectations of customers. Most of the vendors have adopted agreements, collaborations, and partnerships as key strategies to enhance their client base and customer experience management offerings. Adobe Systems Incorporated (U.S.), Oracle Corporation (U.S.), IBM Corporation (U.S.), Nokia Networks (Finland), Tech Mahindra Limited (India), Avaya Inc. (U.S.), SDL (U.K.), SAS Institute Inc. (U.S.), and OpenText Corporation (Canada) are some of the major players operating in this market. These companies have followed both organic and inorganic growth strategies. For example, Adobe has focused on developing strategic partnerships in order to strengthen its position in customer experience management market while Oracle has adopted acquisitions as its primary growth strategy to enhance its products and services and expand its customer base.

Six Principles For Developing Humility As A Customer Focused Leader

Whether we’re looking at business or politics, sports or entertainment, it’s clear we live in an era of self-celebration. Fame is equated with success, and being self-referential has become the norm. As a result we are encouraged to pump ourselves full of alarming self-confidence. Bluster and the alpha instinct, contends Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology, often get mistaken for ability and effectiveness (at least for a while). It may well be why so many (incompetent) men rise ahead of women to leadership positions, as Chamorro-Premuzic argued in a recent article.

Yes, we have scores of books, articles, and studies that warn us of the perils of hubris. The word comes from the Greek and means extreme pride and arrogance, generally indicating a loss of connection to reality brought about when those in power vastly overestimate their capabilities. And yes, many of us have also seen evidence that its opposite, humility, inspires loyalty, helps to build and sustain cohesive, productive team work, and decreases staff turnover. Jim Collins had a lot to say about CEOs he saw demonstrating modesty and leading quietly, not charismatically, in his 2001 bestseller Good to Great.

Yet the attribute of humility seems to be neglected in leadership development programs. And to the extent it is considered by managers rising through the ranks, it is often misunderstood. How can we change this?

First, let’s get a few things straight. Humility is not hospitality, courtesy, or a kind and friendly demeanor. Humility has nothing to do with being meek, weak, or indecisive. Perhaps more surprising, it does not entail shunning publicity. Organizations need people who get marketing, including self-marketing, to flourish and prosper.

Hubris, meanwhile, is not a fair label to apply to any person who thinks differently and has the courage to assert or act on their convictions. Studies show, however, that serious problems emerge when robust individualism commingles with narcissism — another term for which we can thank the Greeks (whose demigod Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection). Narcissism combines an exaggerated sense of one’s own abilities and achievements with a constant need for attention, affirmation, and praise. While the label tends to be applied loosely to anyone behaving in a self-absorbed way, psychologists know narcissism to be a formal personality disorder for some, and a real impediment to their forming healthy relationships. The narcissist lacks self-awareness and empathy and is often hypersensitive to criticism or perceived insults. He or she frequently exaggerates contributions and claims to be “expert” at many different things. If you are part of an organization with a leader exhibiting such characteristics, you have a problem. (Executive search firms and hiring committees beware.)

But beyond refusing to hire or promote such extreme cases, can and should organizations try to cultivate more humility in their leadership ranks? How would that goal take shape in the context of a formal leadership development program? As a starting point, we would suggest a curriculum designed around six basic principles. If you’re a developing leader, you should be taught to:

Know what you don’t know. Resist “master of the universe” impulses. You may yourself excel in an area, but as a leader you are, by definition, a generalist. Rely on those who have relevant qualification and expertise. Know when to defer and delegate.

Resist falling for your own publicity. We all do it: whether we’re writing a press release or a self-appraisal, we put the best spin on our success — and then conveniently forget that the reality wasn’t as flawless. Drinking in the glory of a triumph can be energizing. Too big a drink is intoxicating. It blurs vision and impairs judgment.

Never underestimate the competition. You may be brilliant, ambitious, and audacious. But the world is filled with other hard-working, high-IQ, and creative professionals. Don’t kid yourself that they and their innovations aren’t a serious threat.

Embrace and promote a spirit of service. Employees quickly figure out which leaders are dedicated to helping them succeed, and which are scrambling for personal success at their expense. Customers do, too.

Listen, even (no, especially) to the weird ideas.Only when you are not convinced that your idea is or will be better than someone else’s do you really open your ears to what they are saying. But there is ample evidence that you should: the most imaginative and valuable ideas tend to come from left field, from some associate who seems a little offbeat, and may not hold an exalted position in the organization.

Be passionately curious.Constantly welcome and seek out new knowledge, and insist on curiosity from those around you. Research has found linkages between curiosity and many positive leadership attributes (including emotional and social intelligence). Take it from Einstein. “I have no special talent,” he claimed. “I am only passionately curious.”

We can’t imagine that an individual exposed to the six principles above and encouraged to take them to heart could become anything but a better leader.

But meanwhile, assuming your organization isn’t already helping its leaders develop such habits of mind, let us leave you with two humble, and humbling, suggestions. First: subject yourself to a 360 review. Anonymous feedback from the people who surround you may constitute a mirror you won’t love gazing into, but as Ann Landers wrote: “Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you are wonderful.” 360 feedback pays off in two ways. It shows you how your self-perception deviates from others’ perception of your leadership. (And in leadership, perception is reality.) And it gives you a valuable practice in receiving feedback and turning criticism into a plan for growth and development.

Second, get a coach. We all have blind spots, and there’s certainly no shame in getting help with them. Fast Company reports that 43% of CEOs and 71% of Senior Executives say they’ve worked with a coach. And 92% of leaders being coached say they plan to use a coach again.

Resolve to work on your own humility and you will begin to notice and appreciate its power all around you. In a recent meeting we convened in Los Angeles, the accomplished Chairman and CEO of a major Hollywood studio shared the benefit of his experience with 20 young professionals and students. What did this leader emphasize with the group? He spoke of his own failures, weaknesses, and blind spots, and how they had spurred his learning and success. The fact that he spoke about himself in this way deeply impressed the group. He projected convincing self-confidence, authenticity, and wisdom.

He was a convincing example of the kind of leader our organizations should be trying harder to develop — the kind that knows it’s better to develop a taste for humility now than be forced to eat humble pie later.

John Dame is CEO of Dame Management Strategies (DMS). Jeffrey Gedmin is CEO of the Legatum Institute.

Service Excellence For Zimbabwe Economic Recovery

By Net One Customer Care

Introduction

Customer service excellence is no longer just a supporting pillar of business but the only inimitable source of competitive advantage. While product superiority and technology are necessary, they are not sufficient on their own to provide long term advantage to a business over its rivals. Thus, the issue of service excellence cannot be over emphasized as it has now become more critical than any other time in the history of the mobile telecoms in Zimbabwe. The competition has intensified, the market is fast maturing and phenomenon of customers carrying multiple SIM cards is now commonplace. As such, the only sustainable way a Mobile Network Operator (MNO) can differentiate themselves from competition is not just by offering products and services that are meaningful to customers but complementing that with a superior customer service.

Investment in Service Support Systems

The impact of technology on service excellence cannot be over highlighted. Quite clearly, the mobile telecommunications industry relies heavily on technology in providing the necessary supporting customers. That being said, it is imperative that suitable technologies should be acquired and integrated with other key business interfaces to revolutionise the servicescape.

To ensure service delivery and support quality outcomes, mobile network operators must recognise the need to put in place a programme of investment for service support systems. The last ten (10) years have seen the MNOs in Zimbabwe ramping up investments in support systems such as customer contact centres, customer relationship and self-service technologies (SSTs) in an effort to provide excellent service. In turn, this has resulted in customers having easy access to support thereby enhancing their experience.

Shift in Focus

As the Zimbabwean mobile telecoms market matures, it is quickly becoming a reality that the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is offering excellent customer service. It cannot be easily copied by competition, hence, provides a competitive edge over on the long haul. In light of this fact, MNOs must place greater significance and value on the importance of service quality in order to drive corporate performance as well as the Zimbabwean economy in general.

Challenges Ahead

The greatest challenge confronting operators which is impacting on service is the depressed consumers’ spend and limited access to funding spawned by the economic challenges. As a result, this would entail less investment in service support systems and may adversely affect service. Zimbabwe needs to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of implementing the best practice otherwise the goal of achieving true service excellence will become elusive.

Seamless Service,Sixty Seconds Snippet On Customer Service

LACK OF STRATEGY IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST OBSTACLES TO IMPLEMENTING CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE. SO WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES TO KEEP IN MIND?

  1. Be clear about what you stand for and stick to it – you cannot be all things to all people; that way lies mediocrity. So be clear about what you promise and stick to it.
  2. Take a holistic view of the business – what you stand for, the operational choices you make, the culture you foster, the experience you deliver, and how you deliver it through your people and processes have to work in harmony to mutually support and reinforce the brand. Each element must work with every other in order for the strategy to work. This means that customer experience needs to be viewed holistically.
  3. Don’t gold plate your customer experience – customer experience is a neutral term and does not imply gold-plated service. Ritz-Carlton offers a great customer experience but so too does Premier Inn. Yet their business models and price points are very different and delivered in distinctive ways. Be careful not to upgrade your customer experience beyond the point that target customers want and are willing to pay for.
  4. Treat your customer experience and employee experience as one and the same – it follows then that if your strategy is to be low-cost, innovative and simple, your culture and values must reflect that. If your strategy is to offer premium service then you need the very best people who are highly trained and who want to stay with you long-term

THE WORLD OF BRANDING HAS BECOME SO COMPLEX THAT MANY PEOPLE FORGET THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF WHAT MAKES A GREAT BRAND. THERE ARE SIX BROAD PROCESSES TO FOCUS ON:

  1. Developing a differentiated point of view that is credible and relevant to customers – understanding the mindset of your customers and how to appeal to them begins with an understanding of what makes you different.
  2. Creating a differentiated visual identity consistently applied across every aspect of the brand – great brands do not just think differently, they look different.
  3. Communicating powerfully, consistently and empathetically with EXTERNAL stakeholders – great brands develop communication that is not only creative in style and content but also in the choice of media and tone of voice.
  4. Communicating powerfully consistently and empathetically with all INTERNAL stakeholders – brands that earn their customers’ loyalty are characterised by employees who understand and identify with the brand.
  5. Aligning processes, training development and management structures and style with the brand promise – this is where the difference between great authentic brands and the great creative advertiser is seen. Great brands put their promise to the customer at the heart of their operations.
  6. Measuring what contributes to brand value, not short-term sales – businesses that care about their brands, take into account not only the lagging indicators (historical performance) but also the leading indicators which predict market behaviour – such as customer satisfaction, brand equity and brand value.

CREATE A MEANINGFUL AND VALUABLE EXPERIENCE FOR YOUR PEOPLE IF YOU WANT THEM TO DO THE SAME FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS.

Service development or training is often something done TO people and not WITH people – curious when you remember front line staff are closest to your customers and best placed to hear what customers want, need and value from your brand.

Here’s a few things to consider when designing your customer experience training.

  1. Focus on what customers value – base your learning solution on the actions and behaviours customers expect and value from your brand and your people, not on what you think they need. Then engage your people on how they can develop and strengthen the skills and knowledge they need to deliver your brand – and pay attention to how you’ll manage, motivate, support and reward them for doing so.
  2. People own what they help to create – involve your people in the design and development of their learning; and involve team leaders in owning and supporting success so this becomes ‘how we do things here’ and not this year’s initiative.
  3. Head, heart and hands – if people don’t first understand, and believe in, what your brand stands for and the value they can bring to customers, they won’t be inspired to bring your brand to life through their actions and behaviours.
  4. Integrate and align – if learning is to deliver sustainable results, it has be hardwired into every HR process that supports people performance and development such as hiring, onboarding, performance management and recognition. Stop thinking about training your people and start developing your organisation to live your brand.

MANY BUSINESSES SAY THEY WANT TO BECOME MORE CUSTOMER-CENTRIC IN ORDER TO OUTPERFORM THEIR COMPETITORS. THERE ARE A NUMBER OF KEY STEPS TO MAKING THIS HAPPEN

  1. Leadership – the leadership team has to believe that customer centricity is core to driving outperformance. They must be prepared to ‘walk the talk,’ as all the company’s employees will observe their actions, not their words, for proof of consistency, day in and day out. For this belief to be created, there must be a business case which is founded on strategic customer insight, demonstrating the link between delivering improved customer experience and improved rates of acquisition of high value customers and/or improved levels of loyalty.
  2. Purpose – employees need to be driven by a clear sense of purpose or brand promise which goes beyond the company’s own immediate financial self interest. It’s all about ‘working for the mission not the salary’ and it’s this type of discretionary effort which underpins sustainable outperformance on the dimension of customer experience.
  3. Customer Promise – there has to be a way of translating a high-level purpose into specific direction for those running operations. One way a customer-centric business does this is with a customer promise. Based on great insight about what really matters in winning and retaining customers, this defines what customers should experience at all the brand’s most important touch-points.
  4. KPIs – what gets measured is what gets done. In order to ensure the wish to be ‘more customer-centric’ is executed, the company’s KPIs must be focused on the ‘inputs’ – those aspects of the customer experience that can be managed and improved and not, as with most businesses, the ‘outputs’ of the end result ie the financials. This approach must start with the scorecard of the executive team.
  5. Quick wins & momentum – inevitably, big organisations need time to fully implement significant changes in approach and so it’s essential that any form of turnaround is fuelled by early evidence that both the leadership is serious (eg symbolic changes in the way the company is run internally) and that new initiatives are being quickly taken to market, achieving great results.

Love Letter

This becomes the first of ‘Love Letters to Dear Corporate’.  A series of artistic pieces meant to convey customer concerns over customer service in a generally unique manner. In this feature Customer is pouring out her heart pointing out were Corporate goes wrong in an attempt to embrace social media.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

By Simba Mazoyo

Dear Corporate

This comes as my first letter to you in this inaugural edition of ‘The Customer’, a love letter to be precise. I happen to be the only human who writes to you in this manner. Why? Because I want to. Borrowing from Steve Biko, to you ‘I write what I like’. I am the soul whose liberties go beyond the oceans and the seas. The person who remains sovereign no matter from which direction the sun rises, an individual whose powers have multiplied due to radical globalization and technological advancement. All the same, we are lovers; we don’t hurt each other intentionally. Through coins and notes, our union must last. By VISA or PayPal we must be inseparable. I am the Customer, I need you and I know you want me.

This is one of the many letters I shall write you. Remember communication is the backbone of a sound relationship. My love, this particular piece serves to remind and correct you on your flaws in regards to Social Media. You have caught on the craze and dived into the world of clicks and likes. You now marvel at swelling followers, shares and re-twits. It is a pleasant development, well done! It means you are moving with times. It’s easier and costs less to convey messages to me using social media, but if executed inappropriately, it can yield exactly the opposite result.

Call me naggy, but I only correct you because I care about our union. Whenever I encounter you on Twitter, Facebook, Snap chat, YouTube or Instagram, I get a blood rush. It not only reminds me of your presence, but also fills my heart with great warmth. On social media platforms you educate, inform and encourage me. Constantly you remind me of what I should look forward to in any of our preceding dates. You entice and mesmerize me with beautiful graphics and before I know it, my dollar will be flying out of my pocket into yours. Our union must thus it’s a healthy thing.

My issue with you sweetheart is; why do you indulge and refrain at the same time. Wanting and not wanting are opposites but you seem to force them into one picture. How can you create a page on Facebook, harvest likes then go for weeks without posting something? I will be expecting to hear from you dear. Coming out to social media means you want to socialize. Going mum for ages is of such bad taste. You need to revise your manners in that regard darling. The same applies for Instagram and other social media platforms. I want to hear from you constantly and consistently. When Thomas Chizhanje, Anne Kansiime and iMzansi are flooding my newsfeed with humour, I tend to wonder if at all you are still thinking of me. Psychologically it makes me feel less important and causes me to assume you are now with a younger lover, one with warmer blood. I don’t want to hear about you from others, speak for yourself and ensure only accurate information about you is available. Quoting from Thom Fox, “Social media isn’t simply a megaphone for your brand, it’s a two way street – hence the ‘social’,” Please lover, let’s socialize!

After claiming attention, I must make it clear that over sharing is equally annoying. Do not bombard me with posts and information as if it’s a mathematics seminar, its only social media my dear. The balance is very critical. You don’t need to flood my timeline to get my attention. Salt makes relish delicious, but too much of it spoils the dish. Always try to post stuff that is relevant. Posting the spaghetti bolognaise recipe on a Funeral Insurance Facebook page is a No! Olivine cooking oil might get away with it, but not Clientele Funeral Insurance. I also don’t mind competitions, they keep me engaged. Freebies and other gift vouchers are always welcome in my house any time, any day remember?

Another one of your boobs which irks me is when you share something and disappear on the radar. As polygamous as you are, remember we want swift responds from you. There has to be rapport, its social media anyway. We sometimes end up interacting on our own whilst you remain silent like a granite boulder. You need to be part of every single post dear. When you do that, I will give you full marks for embracing social media. After unfolding a thread, go along lest some intruder comes along and poisons your audience in your absence. Cyber bullies are real!

Another point my lover, do not share uniform content on all social media platforms. The nature of communication on Twitter is not necessarily the same as that one on Facebook neither is the flow on Snap Chat similar to that on Whatsapp. Language is contextual; the word mouse in a computer lab means a computer component, but it will likely ring a different bell when mentioned to a pest controller. I know you wouldn’t want your communications to seem like spam, do you?

You know me; I unapologetically unravel errors, but never fail to bring forth possible solutions. I also wouldn’t want this letter to be as long as my grandmother’s prayer so I will shorten it this way; Have you ever heard of a social media manager? Do not panic, this person does not need to bite deep into your revenue. They are not part of management; they simply create content, then feed and manage it on all company social media platforms. They are supposed to be naturally creative and good communicators. Given enough support, they become the solution to your flaws dear. In this era you can’t afford to miss this member on your team, especially if you wish to pursue consumer-centrism whole heartedly. Just like a receptionist, they have become vital.

If you can’t have this fellow in your organisation, you can simply outsource. I know you fear costs, but most of the modern marketing firms offer this service for a nominal fee. With someone playing this role, our relationship will definitely blossom. Doubts of each other’s commitment will varnish. More of my dollars will surely gladly relocate to your wallet.

I hope to see positive change. The chain of goods, services and money will forever join us sweetheart….S’kawara. For now, receive a thousand kisses.

PS: Do not reply by a letter, I prefer action.

Yours truly

Customer1

International Case Study On Implementing A Successful Event

HOW DO YOU TURN 17,000 PEOPLE, WHO’VE NEVER MET EACH OTHER, KNOW LITTLE ABOUT THE ORGANISATION, AND MAY NEVER HAVE WORKED WITH CUSTOMERS BEFORE – INTO THE PEOPLE WHO MADE THE LONDON OLYMPIC GAMES THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH?

We didn’t call them Games Makers for nothing. Our vision was always that the Games would never be just about sport, or about London, but would be the people’s Olympics. It would be the chance for EVERYONE to be part of the greatest show on earth – the athletes, the spectators and the volunteers themselves. The Games Makers were absolutely key to achieving this.

I firmly believe that any organization can aspire to get their people to do the same. Given the right motivation, training and support – all kinds of ‘ordinary’ people can do the most extraordinary things and really bring an organization’s purpose and vision to life.

For the Olympics, 3 things were key to success:

  1. An absolutely clear sense of purpose – Games Makers weren’t just trained to do specific tasks and make things run smoothly; the focus was on giving them a real sense of purpose. They knew they were a vital part of something important – so that they had a real emotional connection to the games
  2. Personality above script – specific training was important, but it wasn’t about scripts and prescribing exact behaviours. It was more about ensuring they understood their role in making the games happen in a fun and caring way. We wanted above all to allow their personality to shine through and let them to be spontaneous in creating those little moments of magic that turned the spectator experience into a memorable one.
  3. Their role was elevated – this is really important. They were never treated just as functional deliverers, or as ‘temporary staff’ – their role was respected as much as that of the athletes. Everyone was give the title ‘Games Maker’ and it immediately gave the whole team a sense of what their role was and what they were there to achieve.

There is no doubt that the Games Makers grabbed the hearts and minds of our nation and the world.

Just imagine if you could harness that spirit for your organisation.

THE ONLY WAY TO DEFINE THE EXPERIENCE YOU GIVE YOUR CUSTOMERS IS TO MAP OUT THEIR JOURNEY ACROSS ALL TOUCHPOINTS.

The customer journey map, or experience blueprint, will show the points of pleasure and pain you are putting your customers through, and whether you are delivering your brand values throughout the journey. It can also highlight opportunities to deliver those magic moments that can elevate their experience.

Journey mapping used to be relatively straightforward – a nice linear journey from search to purchase and post purchase, stopping off at a few other touchpoints on the way. But over the last few years multi-product and multi-channel have added new complexity – not only in the additional number of products and touchpoints, but also in the way these are joined up. Customers can go back and forth amongst the various touchpoints, in no particular order, sometimes interacting with each simultaneously.

Regardless of how haphazard the journey appears, customers now expect to receive a fluid, seamless, consistent and personalised experience, whether it’s in-store, online or mobile – and in whatever order they choose. They don’t see any of these areas as separate places to shop or interact with the brand, they see them as one.

So how do you approach this when defining your customer journey?

This is by no means a simple task, it involves working with the whole business to get a holistic view of how you are treating your customers. The major challenge is to keep the approach simple and not let the technology define the journey for you. Keeping in mind the following fundamental principles can help:

  1. Start from your customer’s perspective, not the organisation’s – until you’ve experienced the actual journey your customers take, you can’t begin to empathise with what they go through.
  2. Identify the pain or stress points – ensure you think about your most valuable customers and their top expectations. Where are the points of pain you are putting them through? Note also the inefficiencies, redundancies or inconsistencies in how customers experience your brand.
  3. Identify the opportunities – look for the ‘cracks’ or hand-offs between existing touchpoints eg the interval between making a purchase on-line and the actual delivery of the goods. These are areas that are often ignored. Look also for those touchpoints ignored by your competitors. These are often key opportunities to differentiate.
  4. Identify your hallmark touchpoints. These are the ones that deliver most value to your customers, differentiate your brand and emotionally engage your customers.
  5. Think beyond the accepted beginning and past the perceived end. Although many companies create amazing purchase experiences, the post-purchase experience is often not given the same priority. Post-purchase is the point where you can nurture, grow and bond with your customers.
  6. Don’t ignore the ‘feedback’ touchpoint. How, and when you ask customers for feedback – and respond to it – are important touch-points. Whether it’s through a survey, or a review on Trip Advisor or a comment within social media, make sure you create a touchpoint that enables you to influence that experience of your brand, but without it being onerous for the customer.

Above all, be very clear about your purpose and your brand values and the extent to which you are delivering these at each touchpoint throughout the journey.

Enhance Customer Service Experience Using Self-service

When I was in college, I worked at a gas station. This was at the time when gas stations were converting from full-service to self-service. Where we previously would pump the gas for the customer as well as wash their windows and check their oil, the new procedure was that they would pump their own gas and we, the employees, would simply collect their money and say “Thank you.”

These early self-service stations did not have the advanced technology as those of today. There was no credit card machine attached to the pump, and not even a kiosk where the customer would pay the employee at a window. No, we collected money on the drive. I had a metal coin changer attached to my belt and bills in my pocket so I could make change, and we manually reset the pumps for the next customer.

I remember one incredibly cold day – with the wind chill, the temperature was double digits below zero. A frail-looking elderly woman – a regular customer – pulled up and stepped out of her car to pump her gas. I went over to her and told her that I would pump the gas if she would like to sit in her car, for which she was very grateful.

Afterward, when I went inside the building to warm up, the manager of the station approached me. He looked agitated, and as I recall, he said, “Did I just see you pump that woman’s gas for her?  We’re self-service, you know.”

I felt a bit defensive and I replied, “She is a very old woman, and she’s been here before. I was just trying to be nice.”

He snapped back, “Well, what do you think she will expect the next time?”

I said, “Well, maybe she will come back the next time she needs gas instead of going to the station across the street.” As I ran out to help the next customer, I remember being shocked by his attitude. Helping an elderly woman on a cold day just seemed to me like doing the right thing.

I thought about this experience today as I was checking in at a self-service kiosk at the airport. I was having difficulty; for some reason, the machine wouldn’t read my credit card. Almost immediately, an airline employee appeared to help me. I didn’t have to ask for help. Although it was a “self-service” check-in, there was an employee ready and waiting to help the customers.

Self-service is not an invitation to ignore the customer. It should be about enhancing the customer experience by making it faster, more efficient and maybe even less expensive. Don’t forget about customer service just because you have a self-service option. On the contrary, use self-service as a way to enhance your customer service.

Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business go to http://www.hyken.com.

Copyright © MMXVI Shep Hyken – Used with permission.

Do You Know, Like and Trust Your Customers ?

It’s common knowledge – and common sense – that customers want to do business with people they know, like and trust.

Business is all about relationships. Your customer relationships may fall on various levels, but at a minimum, customers should be able to count on you. They have chosen to spend money on your products or services, so to keep happy customers happy, they should have the feeling that they “know, like and trust” you.

But what if we look at the relationship from the other direction? Do you know, like and trust your customers? If you want to have those positive feelings from the customer, it would be beneficial to the relationship if you also had those same feelings for the customer. As you strive to build loyal customers, do you act in a way that the customer can feel a sense of loyalty from you?

I am the customer.

I want you to know me. I want you to recognize me when I walk through your door or up to your counter. If I am a regular customer with a “regular” order, I want you to remember.

I want you to like me. I don’t just want to be liked for the money that I spend for whatever it is that you sell. I want to feel like you are genuinely happy to see me and appreciate my business.

I want you to trust me. There may have been a few people in the past that have taken advantage of you. But please don’t make rules, policies and procedures that make it difficult for me to do business with you because of them. When you are formulating your business policies, keep in mind that most customers are good, honest people.

When I walk into my favorite restaurant, the owner recognizes me. It’s apparent because he takes interest in me. He may even remember where I sat and what I ordered the last time I was there.

This type of engagement is possible in telephone and online interactions as well. I filled out my profile on the American Airlines website, so now when I call, I am greeted by “Welcome back, Shep.” Right from the start, the transaction begins at a higher level.

Amazon.com remembers my previous purchases, and when I visit the website it offers suggestions for related items. The system was built to recognize and “know” the customer.

There are many ways to make customers feel as if you know, like and trust them. It may be with the help of CRM software, technology or just good, old-fashioned memory and attention to detail.

When both parties know, like and trust each other, that is the mutual respect that is needed to build the all-important and coveted loyal relationship.

Shep Hyken is a customer experience expert and the Chief Amazement Officer of Shepard Presentations. He is a New York Times bestselling author and has been inducted into the National Speakers Association Hall of Fame for lifetime achievement in the speaking profession. Shep works with companies and organizations who want to build loyal relationships with their customers and employees. For more articles on customer service and business go to http://www.hyken.com.

Copyright © MMXVI Shep Hyken – Used with permission.

Customer Service Delivery: My Ultimate Pet Peeve

Being a standards person for almost 10 years, one of my biggest pet peeves is poor service delivery. You don’t need to look hard to find more than one hundred ways to deliver poor service yet simply by putting in place appropriate systems, most consequential practices can be done away with.

Customer service is defined as “the act of taking care of customer needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high quality service and assisting before, during and after the customer’s requirements are met.” Today, it is one of the greatest challenges confronting ordinary citizens on a daily basis and the reason for many failed businesses.

Today, there is a fine line between investment in the company brand and guaranteeing customer satisfaction. Similarly balancing needs of the customer and that of the shareholder is a decision that must be made by those charged with customer service. Businesses today often fall in the trap of taking the easy route, for instance, there is always a battle between taking the short term view (immediate gratification through profit making) instead of taking a long term view (transgenerational) to the business. Moreover, firms prefer being inward looking at the expense of looking more at the external stakeholder requirements who are impacted by the business.  Living up to the promise has become a thing of the past. “Customer is King” has been replaced by “Profit is King” and firms even justify this by reminding workers that the business is not a charity.  Make profits at all costs!

Before introduction in Zimbabwe of Statutory Instrument 64 of 2016. Control of Goods (Open General License) and the restriction of certain goods, competition was mainly in terms of distribution of traded goods. Today, the Standards of Customer Service have become the game changer, forcing a number of players to pay more attention to their customer needs. Those who willfully refused to heed the call, have been forced into oblivion.

While some excuses for poor customer service are excusable, most are quite unbelievable or even an annoyance. Some classical excuses for poor service delivery especially in the retail, hospitality, commercial, travel, construction, real estate, financial services sectors are as old as time. Examples of poor service ranges from, demotivated and disengaged workers, delivering services late or not at all “because the traffic was terrible”, lack of capacity, old technology, an entire company going off for lunch leaving customers unattended, phones not being answered, bureaucratic processes which result in long lines and frustrated clients, non-functional elevators making businesses inaccessible, poor responsiveness to customer complaints, incomplete, slow and confusing communication messages and lack of due care for stakeholder expectations. In short, these examples show that some businesses are taking customers for granted.

Remarkably, while some service providers find ways to add additional hidden charges to their shoddy service, the customer continues to feel cheated and exploited. It does not matter whether it is within the public or private sector, some businesses try to profiteer by unjustifiably raising prices, double dipping and taking advantage of customer ignorance in terms of negotiating contracts. In the case of some airlines, some customers have fallen prey to unscrupulous agents who benefit from overbooking and some have even tried to squeeze customer’s pockets by making it difficult for them to earn frequent flier miles. Some insurance and health institutions fail to honour legitimate claims while some hotels get away with general poor service delivery. It is even shocking to note that some restaurants would try to serve their customers meals that are not as fresh as they should be to save money. Microfinance businesses have become notorious for charging extortionate rates with no matching service. All these examples show the extent to which poor service has become the order of the day. The situation is even worse if the service provider is a monopoly because the customer has no choice and is at the mercy of the service provider.  Some culprits of poor service delivery are retailers which have perfected the art of appearing to be good stewards in their communities yet they are driven solely by a profit motive.

While these practices are completely unacceptable, some businesses have become so accustomed to blaming external forces for their actions to the extent that, it has almost become a culture to deliver shoddy service. This lack of concern for the customer is not only damaging to the brand but also to customer loyalty and confidence. Fortunately, some customers know, exercise and demand their rights at every opportunity while the majority of customers would prefer to vote with their feet. If unchallenged, it won’t be long before the company realizes that, it has lost its market share.

One cannot underestimate impact of poor service, unethical practices and corruption on a brand. Good customer service is indeed a deliberate internal effort by individuals and companies to delight their customers and to ensure that these practices do not compromise the brand value. In a world of stiff competition, it surprising that, while company profits are being squeezed due to shrinking markets, there is no corresponding investment in delivering exceptional service. Companies globally spend more time crafting expensive and complicated strategic plans, yet very few firms are dedicated to measuring execution of that same strategy, a means to an end. This observation is evident by the growth of the number of institutions of higher learning which teach strategic management programs at master’s level, yet little investment is made in training executives on how to deliver exceptional service. This critical element of delighting the customers is left to the whims of the individual to figure it out on their own. This probably explains the increasing number of business coaches who have identified a niche and are focusing more on behavioral change of executives to help them deliver excellence to customers.  Special focus in this area can result in significant changes in the fortunes of the business.

Failure to invest in training people in the organisation, limited attention to managing a business in quality way, putting customers last are all symptoms of companies which are short sighted. International standards and benchmarks provide useful guidelines for quality, environmental, safety, risk and health which benefit to companies, their workers and customers. Standards not only build confidence globally in terms of customer service but also it is the most commonly language understood by markets in protecting consumers from substandard goods.

Conclusion

When all is said and done, customers realise that, to some extent they may be paying more for less. They too have a role to play to protect themselves by being more vigilant. There is a business case in recalibrating minimum benchmarks so as to realign them to customer expectation. Businesses have to realise that, customers have choices. It’s only a matter of time that customers will not allow themselves to be squeezed of every dime to show their allegiance to their service providers. It’s time the culture of servant leadership be driven from the top to promote good customer service. For businesses to survive in 2017, be it a large enterprise or a small family business, the tone at the top must change.

While it is true that, there are many reasons which have led to the existence of firms, e.g. to create a large investment of capital, to improve economies of scale, to develop superior entrepreneurs, to enter into the industry, to create jobs, to provide a solution to a problem, at the end of the day, all these reasons cannot happen without customers. Service deliver and putting the customer first, should be every business’ reason for the existence of the entity.

This starts with accepting that unless we have good systems to improve service it will continue to be common pet peeve not only for me but for many others.

Happy New Year!

This article is written by Dr Eve Gadzikwa, ARSO President, SAZ Director General.

Gadzikwa is a certified Coach Practitioner (CCF Canada) and Author of “I Dare You to Lead.” She can be contacted on egadzikwa@saz.org.zw

2nd Annual Customer Service Excellence Awards set for Next Week

Leading service providers, nationally, organisations and individuals are to be awarded for service excellence once again this year at the service excellence awards under the theme “Service Excellence for Sustained National Economic Growth.” The 2nd Service Excellence Awards for Malawi are scheduled for the Friday, 25th November 2016 at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe in a red carpet dinner event to be held from 6.00pm-9.00pm and will be graced by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

The Service Excellence Awards are organised and managed by Chartered Institute of Customer Management (CICM) which is a customer service professional board with presence in three continents and over 14 African countries. Similar awards are held annually in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Kenya, to mention but a few. This year in Malawi, CICM in collaboration with the Center for Development Management (CDM), our local partner, will be organising this blissful red carpet event to honour the kings and queens of the customer service and service delivery across 28 sectors based on random survey feedback from customers selected across the country.

There are growing calls for more focus on customer service across all sectors in Malawi. The 2016 Forrester Global research on customer service clearly point out that Service delivery and customer experience is now the key competitive battleground for all players globally. Customer service is one of the most important ingredient of the marketing mix. High quality customer service helps to create customer loyalty. Customers today are not only interested in the product they are being offered but all the additional elements of service that they receive from the greeting they receive when they enter a retail outlet, to the refund and help that they receive when they have a complaint about a faulty product that they have paid for.

Last year the event was graced by the Hon. Minister of Industry and Trade, Joseph Mwanamvekha who was represented by the Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Industry and Trade Mr Cliff Chiunda. Also at this event was Dr Ricky Harris who is the Chief Executive Officer for the Chartered Institute of Customer Management based in South Africa.

This year the same royalty is expected to grace this event, mainly the captains of industry and government officials who want to join hands with CICM in making customer service a priority. Customer service has been seen as a catalyst for economic and social growth not only in Malawi but in Africa and the world at large. “It is our hope that our local partner will forge more alliances with government not only in promoting good and prudent customer management practices but to also assist in developing the call centre industry which is vital for job creation and economic development,” said Harris last year when she was delivering her speech during the awards.

According to the Forrester research, globally in 2015, 66% of consumers switched brands or business due to poor customer service, a 4% increase on the previous year. Some 82% of those who switched said the brand could have done something to stop them. Excellent service deliveries is not a subject that is only advocated for in Africa  or Malawi as it is seen to be a global outcry so as to keep and safe guard customers and in turn organisations making profits and excelling at the end of the day.

According to New Voice Media, an estimated $41 billion is lost by leading companies alone each year due to poor customer service and also 60% of the consumers prefer a balance of price and service and will not accept low service levels in exchange for a lower priced product and this is according to UKCSI Customer Satisfaction Index.

In this respect, downplaying the importance of customer service and customer experience is no longer an option because just a single poor customer experience can easily break customer relationship and has a negative impact on brand reputation.

The awards is also helping to promote call centre industry development which is key in job creation in Africa.  It is no secret that lately many African countries have been struggling economically and in turn this has affected many individuals especially in respect of finding employment. The call centre industry has created over thousands of jobs globally. For example, in South Africa and Kenya, millions of dollars have been contributed to these economies annually and in Zimbabwe, according to the 2015 Call centre industry report done by Chartered Institute of Customer Management (CICM) we now have 38 call centres in Zimbabwe and over 3500 people working in call centres. This industry alone is poised to creating over 30 000 jobs in the next five years hence it is of paramount importance to be supporting call centres and client service delivery initiatives.

Hence, CICM and the local partner have seen the hosting of awards and honouring the captains of industry as a stepping stone to creating better call centres and in turn promoting good customer service delivery thus, creating employment in the process. According to Rinos Mautsa a customer service expert and CICM board member, the awards selection process is rigorous and it includes online voting through survey monkey involving 10 000 clients, a questionnaire is also distributed in major towns across Malawi, mystery shopping and local experts comprising of academics, auditors and researchers will then sit down to adjudicate the research results before announcement of the winners.

This year’s categories includes, Hospitality Sector which was won by Protea Hotels last year, Telecommunications which was won by TNM Limited last year, Banking sector which was won by Ecobank last year,  Local Authorities sector which was won by Blantyre City Council last year,  Health Insurance Sector which was won by Metropolitan Health last year,  Transport Sector – Road which was won by Premier Bus Company last year, Transport Sector – Air which was won by Malawian Airlines last year, Grocery Retail Sector which was won by Shoprite last year, Fast Food Sector which was won by Kips last year, Education Sector which was won by the University of Malawi last year, Funeral Assurance which was won by Smile Life last year , Security Sector which was won by Alpha last year, Automobile Sector (Vehicle Service, Sales, Assembling) which was won by CFAO Malawi last year, Postal And Courier Services Sector which was won by DHL last year, Service Stations Sector which was won by Puma Energy last year, Hospitals Sector which was won by Blantyre Adventist Hospital last year, Special Awards Presentation, Excellence In Corporate Social Responsibility which was won by Shayona Cement last year, Customer Focused Executive Of The Year – Public Sector which was won by Professor Address Malata – Kamuzu College of Nursing last year, Customer Focused Executive Of The Year – Private Sector which was won by Mr. Felix Mlusu – CEO – NICO Limited last year , Best Call Centre Sector which was won by TNM last year. ~END~