Great experiences will keep customers loyal

Friday November 26 2021

Vendors speak to customers at a stall selling traditional batik fabric during a handicraft exhibition in Surabaya, Indonesia. PHOTO | AFP


Whoever wants to build a competitive edge must not only consider product and process innovation but also service innovation.

With service innovation no new product is developed. The novelty lies in the way the service is delivered.

The reality of the market is that if two or more people are selling the same thing in the same vicinity and at the same price, what will ultimately determine who makes the sale is how people feel about the seller. What experience is the seller giving the buyer? People may forget what they buy from you but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Many organisations spend a lot of money training staff to be customer centric. However, today’s customer is fickle. When a new and improved product comes along or competition comes up with more attractive pricing, fickle customers can be swayed.

The higher dimension is moving from customer service to ambassador service.

Customers stay with you when the going is good and your product is winning. However, when things do not go as planned the value of the ambassador comes in. The ambassador is your insurance against bad times. Their loyalty goes beyond the product or service. They are loyal to what you stand for.


Building ambassadors is crucial at a time when customer behaviour is changing.

Today's customer differs from yesterday's. They are highly impatient because of the instant results environment in which they operate. These are people who have grown up with the microwave and high speed internet.

Turn-around time

Any business that cannot deliver service with speed will be threatened in this new era. The biggest complaint from customers is turn-around time. Many have lost their positions in the market based on that.

Today’s customers are unforgiving. Social media has made everyone a media house and so both the wise and the foolish have a voice. If care is not taken, mediocrity may even rise to the top. So, when a customer is unhappy, the whole world can know about it in real time. Gone are the days of suggestion boxes. Today, judgement is swift and often brutal. Don’t underestimate that.

Today's customer is also informed. They probably know more about your industry than you do. With platforms such as Reddit and numerous other social media apps, they get to share information about different ideas and concepts and so if you are engaging with them and cannot keep up, they will leave you behind.

Never let your customer feel that the grass is ever slightly greener on the other side. Today's customer is promiscuous with their loyalties and a hint of greener grass, no matter in what form it comes, is enough to trigger an exodus.

Today's customer also has the advantage of options. When you upset them, they can walk out and into the waiting arms of the competition with the click of a button.

Finally, today's customer is sensitive. They thrive on likes and follows. They want to see this replicated from social media to the real world. So, if they do not get the same emotion that likes and follows give them, you might lose them.

Organisations should create unique experiences that will make an emotional connection. Customer service is a concept that served the customer of yesterday. Ambassador service is the language that will serve the customer of today.

Great products and services produce customers but great experiences produce ambassadors and this is where the service innovator will be king.

Wale Akinyemi is the convenor of the Street University ( and chief transformation officer, PowerTalks; [email protected]