Customer Centricity and the Digital Era

Amazon, one of the world’s most successful companies, runs almost entirely via a digital platform. The company prides itself on being customer obsessed, “Our leaders start with the customer and work backwards. They work vigorously to earn and keep customer trust. Although leaders pay attention to competitors, they obsess over customers ”.

Years ago, advertisements were typically one sided—-large companies invested huge amounts of money in ad campaigns that were usually viewed via TVs or magazines. Hope was the key word here- hoping your target audience watches your selected TV stations at the selected time(s) you paid for a slot, hoping that purchased the magazine you placed the ad in…etc. But in the modern era, businesses have learnt the hard way— hope is not a strategy.

Your competitors are consistently using data driven tactics not only to create a market from current non-consumers but also to convert your existing customers into theirs. Your customers on the other hand, are continuously gaining more power over their own experiences across multiple platforms. They are bombarded with information from every angle and have shifted from being passive consumers into actively engaged and aware buyers.

The idea of ‘social business’ is often poorly understood, poorly executed and in some cases, completely overlooked. It involves effectively blending social business strategy, marketing technology and customer experience. In 2017, two-way communication and engagement between customers and brands is not only easily available but expected. With Google and only 1kb of data, the average customer can instantly find information about your product, reviews, service, company mission and actions. As a business, you must also make the necessary investments to study your customer behaviours, especially those that determine whether they are one off buyers or loyal repeat customers. Technologies like customer journey analytics measure how any organization is doing at implementing these tools.

Asides your well thought out advertising campaign, your customer is also skewed in the direction of other factors, which include but are not limited to, your brand message (think Nike, “Just Do It”), Your social media page (think Kim Kardashian or Fashionova), brand ambassadors’ social media (think Toke Makinwa/ Tiwa Savage), customer reviews (think YourGreenBook or Yelp), digital word-of-mouth, your website functionality and the customer post-purchase experience.

Word of mouth marketing and getting customers to recommend business and products to their “friends” is slowly becoming outdated — unless it’s done digitally. Continuous engagement with customers and trend analysis will put you one step ahead in the domain of product development and improvement of existing services. Letting go of mass marketing campaigns, based on hope to hit a string in the customer’s wallet needs to be abandoned and replaced with targeted customer conversion. Your job doesn’t end with acquiring a customer, your aim is to nurture the relationship and ultimately convert them into brand loyalists.

Creating customer experience vision and strategy coupled with developing a mindset of customer process improvement is a good place to start. Being flexible with your approach and being open to unconventional means and abandoning archaic methods that don’t produce results is another major step. To be successful, think customer experience first, and technology as an enabler of the customer experience your organization wants to deliver.

What to look out for when making hiring decisions

Now more than ever, customers are more aware of the options available to them. Though the quality of the service itself is still high on the customers’ priority list, the entire experience of the service may be the deciding factor in whether your business continually increases the percentage of recurrent clients or continually lives off new customers

Bad hiring decisions cost you time and money. Quantitatively, bad hiring eventually needs to be corrected by a repeat cost of re-hiring, and the opportunity cost of bad service to customers cannot be quantified.

Making hiring decisions starts by building the job description around the work to be done, as opposed to advertising for a generic position. The entire recruitment process should be tailored around sieving out candidates with the most potential for the job to be done. A job that is centered around pacifying offended customers may not benefit much from a recruitment centered around calculus skills.

The following is a nonexhaustive list of factors that should be considered when hiring a customer service

Background checks; YourGreenBook was founded after a less than ideal hiring experience which could have been prevented by a thorough background check. While the effort and time requirement may seem daunting and unnecessary, skipping a background check may potentially damage key client relationships and cost much more in the long run.

Attitude; Hiring for a skill set in technical positions may be the way to go but this must be balanced with soft skills. Do they seem to be generally happy and have positive energy, or was their first statement in the interview room a complaint about the bathroom or traffic? Do they seem open about talking about diverse topics or do they try to divert certain topics?

Fit, conscientiousness, and Tenacity; The first red flag to lookout for is how much research they have done on your company. If a candidate doesn’t put in the effort to put their best foot forward in creating a good first impression in the interview, you must question their ability to morph into star staff member that is always willing to go that extra mile. Job roles may be fixed, but the job to be done is typically fluid. Potential hires should be able to take initiative to doing certain ad hoc task shoes they are not officially required to. My mother always instilled in us the value of doing more; she would always tell my siblings and me when we were younger that if we saw something on the floor (whether ours or not) we should pick it up and put it where it belongs because keeping the house clean was a community effect and not one person’s specific role. Next time you interview someone, ask yourself “Is this the type of employee that would walk by something without a care or would he/she take the initiative to pick it up”?                                                                                                                             Long Term Goals; Is the role available in line with their personal long term plans? Or are they taking the job strictly as a source of income? When an employee sees his/her current role as a means to an end, especially relating to their personal lives, they are able to multitask and apply themselves, as they see the role as a stairway to their long term plans.

Applicable Skillset; It may be tempting to tilt towards candidates with an impressive range of skill sets, but how many are transferable to the job to be done? Do they have the required familiarity with the role or do they sound like they are spewing rehearsed terminology to impress the interviewer?

In Summary, as an employer, you need to articulate what is required of the role and focus on it. Emphasis should b be placed on accurately describing the job to be done, and designing the skills and attitude required from the ideal candidate. If the company has a culture that is designed and proven to infiltrate the employees, more emphasis should be placed on the candidates’ flexibility and adaptability. On the other hand, if your company’s strategy is to bring in influencers, more emphasis should bé placed on recruiting for personal culture and behavioral traits.

Coffee In Lagos

My first experience with coffee was in 2013; I can remember the experience very vividly. I had recently re-located and I was struggling. The mix of jet lag, hectic days at work, staying up all night to complete assignments wasn’t easy for me. I came to discover that I wasn’t the only one of my peers going through this stress, however, others seemed to have a better survival strategy than I did. We would get to class at 7am after staying up all night; I’d head straight to my seat where I would commence my usual cranky behavior for the next 8 hours. However, I noticed my classmates would start their days differently, other students headed towards a machine, had a cup of whatever it was, and the came back to their seats looking better than they did before the ‘cup’.

I walked into class one day with my Norwegian buddy and she asked me to come with her to get some coffee. She offered me a cup and I accepted not realizing that a pretty big life change was about to happen right after taking that first gulp. My first cup of coffee turned out to be espresso. After that cup, I was literally bouncing off the walls and had become the morning person I never knew I could be. I never looked back. On weekends, coffee shops became my second home, as I could buy coffee and work at the same time. Plus. Free. Wifi. I had literally stumbled across heaven on earth.

I’ve since returned to Lagos and was very pleased to discover that in my absence, my fellow countrymen had also been bitten by the coffee bug. As I am now transitioning between work and business school, I find myself working out of coffee shops more than ever. One of my recent discoveries and favorite places is My Coffee Lagos. Located on Adetokumbo Ademola, the quaint space is bright and airy with an array of indoor and outdoor seating space and free.Wifi, which is a huge plus in Nigeria. With the shop being centrally located and a favorite of the international crowd in Nigeria, the shop is NOT ideal if you can’t work with distractions, as you WILL be interrupted by neighboring conversations. The food is also pretty amazing although much pricier than other well-known cafes. For more details on the menu and the cafe, check out the reviews below from two of our favorite food blogs; Foodie in Lagos and Eat.Drink.Lagos.

Bon Appetit!