Throughout my career, I have dedicated my time, energy and passion to helping companies create better experiences for customers. It is very rewarding because I can relate to the customer journey on a personal level – as a consumer, I have a deep understanding of how a single interaction can make me feel, and how those emotions fundamentally drive my buying behaviour and my loyalty towards a brand.
When I feel like I am not heard, that my side of a story is not taken into consideration, or that people are hiding behind their policies or procedures to avoid dealing with a situation, it triggers a deep sense of rejection. We are all hard-wired for connection, and this disconnect creates deflection. Sadly, many brands, especially in South Africa, do not realise that customers express this disconnect by simply “talking with their feet” – and do this in the direction of competitors.
I love working in this space because I want employees to understand that every customer is another human being, just as they are. While it is true that they are representing a brand during office hours, they are also consumers in other areas in their lives. We all have an idea of how we want to be treated. But too often humanity, compassion and connectedness are left behind when we enter the workplace. This is because we are often driven by fear: the environment is not safe, there is no tolerance for mistakes, we don’t feel the humanity in our leadership’s behaviour – and then believe that’s just the way things should be done. Most organizations don’t have a culture of learning and people are not allowed to make mistakes, which means to be courageous, or be creative, to solve problems are not generally encouraged.
Like a lot of people, I am drawn to the underdog, and in this scenario, I feel huge compassion for employees who are expected to engage with customers without understanding the purpose of what they are doing. They are often left feeling isolated and disempowered. They are the heroes that can make the magic; yet are often the last to receive the support from business that will enable them to do their best for customers.
I also love the customer experience space because of its simplicity: it really boils down to connecting with customers as humans, and to good manners. We are all human, so anyone can really grasp that it essentially comes down to human needs and responses.
My passion is to ignite humanity in the workplace – and to bring back compassion, care and purpose. To quote everyone’s favourite boss, Richard Branson: “Happy staff = happy customers”.
The steps are simple: Develop empathy to connect with others with compassion and care. Then see your own business through the customers’ eyes – how do they feel when certain actions are taken.
This leads to great benefits for the individual, the customer, and ultimately also for the business. Employees will thrive, customers will stay loyal, and businesses will enjoy profitability and longevity.