CX Speak

Customer Centricity Is A Growth Strategy: CX Lessons by Ms. Caroline Kunga, CX Expert and Managing Partner, Customer Experience Excellence Limited

At Customer Guru, we believe that Customer Experience (CX) should be the number one priority for all the Indian businesses so that they become more sustainable and successful globally. Thus, we are on a mission to spread this awareness, inspiring and guiding professionals to adopt and inculcate a customer-centric approach. We are certain that this is a first step to help organizations WOW their customers and create raving fans for themselves.

Continuing with our initiative of sharing experiences of top-notch CX experts, we have another gem of an interview with Ms. Caroline Kunga. Having worked for multiple private, public and non-governmental organizations, Ms. Caroline has over 16 years of experience in the Customer Service and Experience field. She is a Customer Experience Expert and the Managing Partner of Customer Experience Excellence Limited (CEEL), a customer service and experience consulting firm based in Mombasa, Kenya. CEEL aims at helping organizations achieve their financial goals through an emphasis on Excellent Customer Experience, by consulting and training them in the same area, in addition to Leadership training. Ms. Caroline’s rich expertise in the CX arena is a combination of her education, work and real-life experiences.

In this exclusive interview with Customer Guru, Ms. Caroline talks about the role that customer experience plays in an organization’s growth and profitability. She also elaborately discusses a few tips on building a customer-centric culture in an organization.

We invite our readers to comment and ask questions on challenges they might be facing in their organizations when setting up a customer-centric culture. We would be more than happy to help. This article is framed in a question-answer format; please feel free to share your feedback on the article too.

As a professional, you have contributed to organizations across geographies. What role has customer centricity played in your professional journey?

Customer centricity differentiates the mediocre organizations from top performing organizations. Organizations that are on top of their game have customer centricity in their DNA. We cannot put centricity aside even for a minute. I have always believed that customers play a big role in my existence, right from paying my salary to keeping businesses in business. Customers are the reason for our existence; hence, I have to make all my plans in line with customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. This starts with providing the needs of the internal customers first who provide quality service and products to our external customers. It is crucial to work together with your internal customers and suppliers to enable excellent customer experience for external customers. Customer centricity has always been the foundation of every decision I have made. This is because I have always understood that through it, excellent customer experience is realized. As a consequence, organizations experience an increase in profits, keeping them ahead of the competition.

In your journey so far, which is the one CX initiative you had pioneered that you are proud of the most? What was the problem it was trying to address and what results were you able to achieve?

The one initiative I am proud of is strategizing customer service recovery and implementation of suggestions put forth by customers. These were not my inventions but I put in strategies to make sure that customer complaints are appropriately handled and suggestions given by internal and external customers are looked into and implemented. The problem that was being addressed was dissatisfied customers whose complaints were not attended to. Furthermore, they did not get feedback for the suggestions they put across. The result was that the organization’s complaints decreased and customers were happy with the strategies that were put in place.

Generally, teams are always caught up in initiatives that are already planned. In this endeavor to meet the existing KRAs, initiatives that could actually create a positive CX get missed out. How would you handle such a situation and align the team towards the CX goal?

It is very important for a team to have a clear vision. Knowing the ultimate goal is crucial and putting in strategies to reach the destination is equally critical. It is very important to know your team intimately; know each person’s strength and weakness and give them an opportunity to take a lead in the areas where their strengths lie. This will eventually help the team achieve its customer experience goal. The team needs to work with the end result in mind so that it is not caught up being busy with activities that will not achieve any results. It is important to have checks and balances that allow the team to remain on the track. This should be done through consistent feedback, real-time goal-tracking to demonstrate group progress, and recognition and appreciation of all the players.

What is your word of advice for businesses embarking on the journey of customer centricity?

Customer centricity is a daily affair built on a strong culture that believes in providing excellent customer service. A customer-centric journey has to carry everyone on board; nobody should be left out since he/she will drag the rest of the team behind. The journey begins with hiring people with the right attitude to having leadership that has customer centricity in its DNA. Customer centricity should be felt on all the organization’s touchpoints. It is important for organizations to have internal strategies where they know their staff come first, but when they are dealing with external customers, then the external customers should be everybody’s priority. Listen to both and action their ideas – the internal customers understand the external customers more than you do. It important to have a customer-centric strategy that is clearly understood by all whereby everybody has been sensitized on what it is all about and what it aims to achieve. The management must walk the talk for the strategy to have any effect.

Businesses embarking on the journey of customer centricity have to note that customer service and experience improvement are continuous processes. They require commitment, without which organizations are bound to fail. Organizations whose brands are widely respected thrive because they have made it a mantra to strive on a daily basis and to give the best service there can be. They know that the top spot is not a monopoly. Products and services can be duplicated by other organizations. Such organizations, therefore, make all their decisions with the customers in mind. Emotional intelligence and empathy play important roles in getting it right from the beginning. Customer centricity is a growth and sustainability strategy. Go for it; it is worthwhile.

Connect with Caroline Kunga on LinkedIn

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