Building customer loyalty: insights from the industry
April is International Customer Loyalty month and we caught up with two amazing ladies who are really driving their businesses to become more customer-centric — Roseanne Owiti (CEO at Ki.chen) and Roohi Shah (Group Head of Finance and Strategy at Rapid Kate Services) — to get their insights into how they are tackling customer loyalty within their space.
They both tackle different markets and customer segments; and it’s interesting to note the commonalities in their insights. Ki.chen operates in both the B2B and B2C space, while Rapid Kate is predominantly in the large B2B space.
Why bother with customer loyalty?
To put it simply, customer loyalty directly impacts a company’s top and bottom line. For more detail on this, have a read as to why customer experience is the new battleground for companies.
What do you define as customer loyalty?
Roseanne: For us, loyalty is when our customers consistently choose our brand, products and services over our competitors.
Roohi: Customer loyalty is earned every step of the way with the growth of the company. Customer loyalty leads to customers staying with us when things are bad and gives us an opportunity to get better when things are good.
Our thoughts: ‘Stickiness’ to the brand seems a common definition for both of them; whether it’s preference over competitors or remaining as a customer even when things haven’t exactly gone to plan.
How do you feel customer loyalty has changed over the past 5 years in Kenya?
Roohi: There is more focus generally on customer experience compared to previously. People want better experiences and demand this rightly so. Customers in our sector value expertise, speed of service and efficiency in which their goods are handled.
Roseanne: With the introduction of foreign brands into the Kenyan market, more attention is being paid to customer experience. We have an audience who are now more aware and expect to be treated as better.
Our thoughts: We couldn’t agree more! With a growing middle class that has increasing access to experiences in other markets and from other markets; Kenyan companies will be judged against those standards too and not just their peers: If Amazon makes it easy for me to order items and have them delivered by the next day, why can’t it be done by others? If Uber can give me a great digital experience, why can’t my bank do the same?
What do you think companies need to do in order to build and sustain customer loyalty?
Roseanne: Variety, value for money, quality products, a great service and customer preference knowledge are the corner stones required to build and sustain customer loyalty.
Roohi: Listening to your customers and acting on what really needs to be done to make sustainable improvements that have a positive impact to the customer and a positive impact to our top and bottom lines.
Our thoughts: Some common threads here too around really knowing your customers, what makes them tick, really listening to them when they give you feedback and acting on that feedback.
How do you create loyalty for your customers?
Roohi: We always ensure we are adding value for each and every customer. We ensure we deliver consistently and even try to surprise/delight a customer by trying to do a better job every time we have an interaction with them.
Roseanne: We ensure consistency in both product and service levels. Our customers must know what to expect every time they encounter our brand. We also ensure we really know our customer from remembering their name, their last order, and their preferences.
Our thoughts: Consistency! Companies that create a sense of reliability and predictability will always win over the customer.
What have you struggled with in terms of customer experience and how did you overcome them?
Roseanne: We have historically struggled with product and service level consistency. To address this, we have created, implemented and enforced standard operating procedures that dictate how we interact with our internal and external customers. We also actively measure and monitor our customer experience to ensure these measures are working and to identify other areas for improvement.
Roohi: In most industries, a lot of customers don’t necessarily complain when they have a problem and simply move their business. If they had an opportunity for a discussion companies would probably be able to address their pain points. We have overcome this by being in constant communication with our customers. This is regardless of whether we are handling a shipment for them at that point in time or not.
About your businesses:
Roohi: Rapid Kate Services provides clearing & forwarding, freight, transport and warehousing services. We have offices in Dubai, Kigali, Kampala, Mombasa and our head office is based in Nairobi.
Roseanne: Ki.chen provides fresh, healthy and tasty food delivered right to your doorstep whether you’re an individual, business or even an event. We have outlets at both Metta and iHub in addition to our central kitchen.
If you’re in the business of making your customer’s happy, we’re keen to hear from you and share your insights and any good practices.