This week I experienced several instances that got me thinking about customer centricity and how well players in the Service sector appreciate the concept that customer happiness is detrimental to the growth and sustainability of their business. Customer happiness is associated with terms like customer delight, customer satisfaction e.t.c.
My first experience was at a client’s premise; at one of their branches in Nairobi. The client is in the financial services sector and enjoys a huge branch network covering several counties. I did not know that their branch was in this particular location where I happened during my errands run. You can imagine my delight the moment is spotted this business premise. The marketing consultant in me immediately decided to walk in and do mystery shopping.
Upon entering I quickly observed a well branded banking hall, small but well organized with an adjacent upper level whose nature and use I was curious to find out. I sat on one of the visitors seats as I waited in line to talk to the customer service officer. When my turn came, I moved to her desk armed with a smile and some thoughts about how to engage her.
I posed as a potential customer who wanted to join the SACCO and I mentioned I wanted to get details of how to obtain a business loan. The customer service officer responded to my questions calmly though without much excitement and when I requested for a write up or brochure on a summary of the onboarding details that she had taken me through, she communicated on their unavailability. When I mentioned to her that I would not open an account today she did not put up a fight neither did she ask me any question including my contacts. I quietly left the branch in mild thought of whether that was an experience that had delighted me or not.
The other experience was during a client AGM held on Saturday in the same week. As the meeting progressed, several members raised points of concern related to the guarantor process and the effects of defaulted loans on guarantors asset in the SACCO. A number of the members, expressed their displeasure that the SACCO goes for their shares as the first resort whenever members default their loan. They were the opinion that the SACCO does little to legally compel the defaulting member. The members clearly demonstrated dissatisfaction with the SACCO for this , a sentiment that was echoed by over four members at different point of the AGM program.
The management of the SACCO allowed the members to vent their thoughts and they were keen to respond to the queries raised by the aggrieved members. The SACCO leadership took the rational approach to the issue preferring to stick to the path of the legal aspect of the guarantorship process and they reiterated that guaranteeing members is done at free will and it bears consequences. They veered away from a strategic approach that would have given other options to members of obtaining security for their loans, e.g. collateral. They also did little to appeal to the emotional concerns of the members. One could easily observe that the member’s concerns had not been exhaustively addressed leaving them unhappy.
Now these two incidences can be termed as low key and having low risk to an organizations customer satisfaction to the non-discerning party. However, businesses that have embraced customer centricity as a major component of their business strategy may view them with more weight. For an organization to be considered highly customer centric, it means that it has gone to great length to ensure that all its internal players (Right from junior staff to the board) are well versed in what it takes to have exceptional customer experience offered to their customer. Customer centric organizations that a customer is the most prized possession they have and that customer value is a subject that needs to be well understood in-order to unlock value for the customer.
Mary Wanjiru is a business development and process management specialist. ;Mary currently works in PKL as a consultant