Creating customer experience: The secret to customer loyalty, repeat sales, and higher profits


By Isaac AWUKU

Every company renders some customer service to its customers. It is the service we render to customers before, during, and after the purchase of our product or service.

These services vary but include helping the customer locate an item he wants to purchase, answering his questions about your products or services, showing how to use a product, or simply making him feel welcome or comfortable on your premises.

However, customer service is not limited to companies only. All organizations and entities, for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including churches, practice customer service.

A friend of mine visited a church in his community for the first time, hoping to make it his home church since it was just a walking distance from his house. When he entered the church, no usher welcomed and ushered him to a seat. He participated in the entire service, but no one recognized his presence. When service was over, he walked out, but no one noticed his exit. Church members occupied themselves with what mattered to them and fraternized with their friends and acquaintances only, not with strangers. My friend felt unwanted. When he left the church, he vowed never to return.

Customers come and go. That is how business operates, but the way you treat your customers determines how many and how long they will stick with you, how many will go and never return, how many will go and return, and how many will go and “proclaim the good news about your business to other potential customers”.

Customers come in different forms and experience things differently. What may excite one may put another off. What may be a great experience to one customer may be standard or ordinary to another. Therefore, you can’t treat all customers the same and expect them all to have the same impression. The secret to great customer service is knowing your customer intimately and treating him the way that excites him more than anyone else. That may sound like a long shot to you; however, in today’s competitive business environment, customer service is no longer enough for the customer. They expect more than mere service. The experience they have when they transact business with you is the key to determining what customers do after that and what they eventually become.

Understanding customer experience

By the way, what is customer experience? How does it differ from customer service? Customer experience is simply the experience your customers have when they encounter your brand and the impression it leaves with them. Let me paraphrase someone’s definition of love to simply customer experience.

“Love is a feeling you feel when you get a feeling that you’ve never felt before.” So, “customer experience is an experience you experience when you get a treat from a company that you never experienced before”. Such experience leaves a lasting impression on you which you relish anytime you think of the company.


Customer experience lesson

Let me share one of such memorable experiences with you. A couple of years ago, I went to Kenya for an international workshop. Participants came from different parts of the world. Our agent chose a hotel facility in Diani, near Mombasa.

The little town is well known for its chain of hotel, conference, and holiday facilities. I had been to Diani for similar workshops in the past. This time, most of us were housed at the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort. Don’t let the name fool you. It was more than a lodge.

At the reception hall, I was greeted with a pot of fresh coconut and the proverbial “Karibu” message, the “Akwaaba” version of Swahili to which I confidently responded “Asante” meaning thank you. The clerk handed me the keys to my room and a brown envelope that contained the map of the hotel detailing the location of every facility carefully named and numbered, such as the Dr. Meister Conference Hall, Bahari Pool, Pango Conference Room, Bustani Garden, Baobab Pool Bar, and Oasis Villas. On the reverse side were Guest Information and Telephone Information.

Across the street, to the opposite side of the resort is the facility’s 18-hole Championship Golf Course, Driving Range, Putting Green Golf carts, Pro Shop & Club House with all facilities.

On a certain day, we would have breakfast at Likunda Terrace Dining, lunch on the Baobab Lawn, and supper at Panorama Restaurant. The next day, all the venues changed. We moved from place to place throughout our one-month stay, including Malaika Terrace, Bustani Gardens, Diani Restaurant, Bahari Terrace, and several open spaces. I guess the objective was to expose guests to the entire facility during their stay.

Each supper time was a different time. On one occasion, we had Buccaneers and Pirate Night, when the chefs, waiters, and waitresses wore pirate costumes with swords on their sides. On Arabian night, they dressed like Arabs and served several Arabian dishes. “What a sight for sore eyes!”

Several times during our stay, we encountered Mr. John Motua, the managing director of Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, an energetic young man with a pleasant personality. He purposely came around to find out how we were faring and how the facility was meeting our needs.

On the eve of our departure, we had dinner at the Bustani Garden, an open space. It was a lovely evening with plenty of good food to eat and nice music to fill the air. Getting to the tail end of the dinner, we saw a group of the restaurant staff coming towards us, singing. One lady was carrying a freshly baked cake and the rest were carrying candles. Everyone turned to look at them, wondering what was happening.

When they reached one of our tables, they stopped, set the cake on the table, and began singing a Happy Birthday song to one of our colleagues from Yemen. It was his birthday, and the hotel had decided to celebrate him. There and then we realized that they pay careful attention to the information guests provide when they fill the booking form.

It’s been several years since then but the pleasant memories of my one-month stay at Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort are still fresh on my mind. I have shared this experience with many friends. This is the power of customer experience. It is the secret to building customer loyalty, securing repeat sales, and yielding higher profits.

It’s been many years since I was at Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort. Times have changed. There may have been a change of management, and Mr. John Motua and his staff are no longer there. It is also possible that they have taken customer experience to a whole new level. What is certain is that organizations that offer customer experience leave a lasting impression on their customers.

The author is a performance management consultant, business trainer, and editor with an uncompromising passion for excellence.   For more information, contact him at +233 27 743 3142 or [email protected]

Leave a Reply