COLUMN: It is often said that we do not know what Customer Service is in Namibia, well I beg to differ. We definitely know what it is, it’s just a case of not often getting the Customer Service we want. This truly needs to change if you want your business to survive. This does not just mean we get service with a smile in a restaurant or supermarket, but also in every business and frankly every organization that has stakeholders, this is where customer service becomes part of a larger principle called Customer Experience (CX). Customer Experience is so much more than just smiling at the customer and saying; “’ Thank you…come again,” and every organization needs to take this into account if they want to increase their sales.
Some of the most common issues and challenges that customers complain about and therefore give them a negative experience are;
- Simply putting necessary and relevant contact information on the website where it is easy to find
- Difficult purchasing processes
- Negative experiences with customer support
- Compromising a customer’s personal security
- Waiting too long on hold
- Ignoring customer feedback
There are of course many other challenges that disrupt a positive customer experience, ensuring that you mitigate these challenges is essential and can be very lucrative. Especially here in Namibia, where any enhanced customer experience will seem like a revelation. The Temkin Group published a study and found that companies that earn $1 billion annually can expect to earn, on average, an additional $700 million within three years of investing in customer experience. Namibian companies may not see such increases, however, every organization can increase their turnover by enhancing their CX.
But what really is CX? Customer experience comes down to the interactions and experiences a customer has with your business throughout the entire customer journey. It’s what creates happy and loyal customers. It is important to know that customer service is only one aspect of the entire customer experience. For example, if you book a vacation on the phone and the person you are speaking with is friendly and helpful, that’s good customer service. Yet, if your tickets arrive early and the hotel upgrades your room, then that’s a great customer experience! Then, if the next time you book, they still have your details and know your preferences then that’s a spectacular CX.
By leveraging Customer Relationship Management (CRM) you can enhance CX. This will create a positive experience with a business which often translates into repeat and loyal customers. Research by American Express found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better experience. Companies that successfully implement a customer experience strategy achieve higher customer satisfaction rates, repeat business, and increased revenues.
You can decide to enhance the CX of your customers, and you can tell your staff to smile, but there’s more to it than that. Especially if you are a large organization, how do you stop from being a faceless corporation and actually being able to create a good CX experience for the stakeholder? This is where technology can really enhance the CX. Use CRM software to make sure you have all the relevant information of your customer or stakeholder whenever you engage with them. Use your websites and social media channels to enhance the engagements with the customer and within their customer journey. Analyze your company data using data analytics to measure how long customer phone calls are taking, how long it takes to resolve client issues, and how long a sales cycle is for example. This data can tell you so much and enhance the overall CX by targeting ‘on-hold’ times at the helpdesk.
The most important thing to realize is that we cannot change the customer experience overnight, certainly not in Namibia. But we can start working on it, if that means for us in Namibia to start with a friendly smile, a courteous and kind phone voice, and answering emails that are sent, it will make a world of difference. Thereby creating positive and enduring CX will become a habit, even here in Namibia.