In the words of the Founder of Walmart, Mr Sam Walton, there is only one boss in business which is the customer and he or she can fire everybody in the company from the chairman downwards simply by spending their money elsewhere.
A satisfied customer is regarded as the best business strategy of all.
What does the customer want, how has digitisation changed consumer spending pattern, what do customers reward, how can companies understand the expectations of its customers and how can a company grow its base while at the same time satisfying its customers with all the complexities that surround the doing of business?
These were the questions that the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio programme of Joy Fm, sought to answer at the weekend.
The show, which is hosted by. Rev Albert Ocran, had the Regional Head for Consumer Banking, Ecobank Ghana, Mr Tara Squire and the Regional Head of Regional Distribution, Ecobank Ghana, Mr Elhanan Owureku Asare, who took listeners through the changing customer expectations and how companies could continue to deliver value to its customers, using the Ecobank example.
Best place to spend money
Mr Squire pointed out that for companies to be profitable, they needed to convince their customers that their businesses were the best place for them to spend their money.
With three months left for the year to end, he said Ecobank was going back to its shareholders to give them assurance that they would continue to deliver value to them.
He said it intends to deliver this value by continuing to excite customers and meeting their needs.
“This is the only way the customer will patronise us and make us number one,” he stated.
“Around this time, we are looking at what we have learnt so far around the customer, looking at how far the customer has responded to our various campaigns and the feedback and use that to build communication or an experience,” he explained.
“We want to convince the customer that we are the best place to their money,” he added.
Everything comes down to profitability
Responding to the tall wish list for many Chief Executive Officers at the beginning of every year, Mr Squire said, “sometimes we are drawn into this whole laundry list but we can break everything down into one thing which is profitability.”
“Everything comes down to profitability. Behind that list should be a list of things that help the customer to be happier with you. If you go back to customer feedback and you glean the insights , it is usually not more than one of two things that the customer needs you to do,” he stated.
Matching expectation of customers
When asked about how strike a balance between customer expectations and that of the company, Mr Squire said it all boiled down to value.
“It all comes down to value because when you look at the company’s side, it’s about delivering value to the shareholder and on the customer side it’s also about value in terms of lower price and higher quantity,” he explained.
He said the company ,therefore, had to think about how it could provide value to both its shareholders and customers as well.
“At the end of the day, it depends on the industry you are in and how value is interpreted. For us at Ecobank, we express value to the customer in a number of ways. We have worked over the last 18 months to ensure that our customers have the power of transaction in their hands,” he said.
For his part, Mr Owureku Asare said creating a convergence between the expectations of customers and that of the company was the missing link in most businesses.
“There seem to be a major missing link between the two. The companies are communicating a lot of value but not doing that in a clear manner for the customer to understand that they are getting value because of the company and vice versa,” he mentioned.
He said when Ecobank started, it had few branches and few customers but today it has a number of branches which are always full with customers.
“So the question is how we can give value to the customers for them to stick to us and we have done that by optimising our operations and reducing cost,” he said.
Good year for Ecobank
Mr Owureku Asare also pointed out that this year has been an interesting year for Ecobank, pointing out that the last quarter of the year was an interesting period.
“The last quarter will be interesting because we need to make sure that we get the best out of the year and also plan for 2019,” he noted.
He said the year had been a good one because the bank was positioning itself to ensure that it delighted its customers and bring shareholder value.
“This year has been interesting because of one thing which is we have been able to understand the customer and provided good services to them. We have invested a lot in terms of frontline training and development to ensure that one key asset of the bank which is customer service is always upheld,” he said. — GB