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Guest article by Eric Nyachae
The saying goes, you will never get a second chance to make a first impression. This explains why the shoe shine business at Jevanjee Gardens will always have clients because neatness is of value. Men are often judged from their shoes going upwards, by the color of their tie and by the firmness of their handshake. Women make great first impressions by their ensemble too and also by their command of a room without saying a word.
Your business too creates a first impression to clients; however, profit comes from maintaining a lasting impression. Impressions are logical as well as emotional, they are formed when a person is exposed to experiences that sway their personal judgements about something or someone, in this case, your business.
Almost all Banks have the same standardized procedures while opening accounts for clients. I have banked with several during my years after high school until now in my mid-forties. What I can say for certain is that I still maintained two accounts from that era, I wonder how they retained my patronage.
Nostalgia has a part to play in this story as I recall filling in my first deposit slip, receiving my first banked cheque and my first withdrawal. The process was new to me, but it fulfilled my needs quickly. Their processes became second nature to me, I became functionally connected but my emotional attachment kept me there all these year. Functional and emotional connectivity comes into play here, understanding these leads to leaving a lasting impression on clients.
Functional connectivity is a client’s interaction with your business procedures or systems that serves their needs. The mediums through which you offer your services to them creates a bond between them and you. The practicality or ease of the process you have laid out for them from start to finish will either bring them back or send them away. How much time they take to get served also contributes a big deal to their functional connectivity to your business. If a fast food restaurant serves its food 11 minutes after the order, that is no longer fast food, it should be called moderately fast food.
There is no hurry in Africa is the usual excuse that is given after a tourist or expat complains about how slow they are being served. What follows next are curse words and expletives as they rant and complain about how think-blink-appear their systems are out there ‘huko majuu’. They would go on to exaggerate that their part of the world is almost heavenly, YouTube videos tell a different story however. That notwithstanding, the important question to ask is, which operation mantra does your business operate by?
Emotional connectivity on the other hand is the client’s feelings towards the business. This begins from their first impression of the business through adverts and other marketing activities, to the point they deal with your business and these emotions are strengthened by their after thoughts about their experience. They can be either positive or negative even as the client is being served. Marketing and Public relations activities are best at promoting positive emotional connectivity to the business. Ever wondered why other business get more word of mouth marketing from their clients and not yours? The functional and emotional connectivity they have with your business makes them proud to be associated by your business.
Every entrepreneur needs to periodically review their systems and procedures as it always contributes to their outlook by outsiders. Good and swift procedures may never be spoken about, but the positive feelings they bring will be expressed by a courteous thank you. Just wait until the day you mess up in a small way and your business becomes a meme on social media for just one hour of failure.
We all remember the day when M-pesa services went offline for a few hours last year, it was the talk of the town for a week or two. Not many openly celebrated M-pesa when it is working at full capacity because they have already built a certain connectivity with their clients. This connectivity is one of efficiency, this becomes their reputation. This reputation builds up their customers’ expectations. The day they went offline is the day we understood how much impact they had on people through their M-pesa platform. Efficient systems always ensure good service experience, this is what brings their clients back.
Therefore, functional and emotional connectivity is all about satisfying the client’s appetites and expectations. A prospective client walks into Paul’s barbershop, immediately surveys the place and before Paul or his colleague approaches them, the client walks out dissatisfied. It used to bewilder Paul and his colleague as they were always left wondering what they did wrong or what they needed to do right. They then realized that it’s just that the client walked in with an expectation and was not impressed by the ambience of the place, haitoshi mboga.
The client was already exposed to better looking barbershops, he could judge the quality of service just from the look of a place. If Paul profiles his clients well enough, he can estimate their expectations. He can alter the arrangement of his business premises, signage, lights, levels of cleanliness, interior décor and the display window in a cost effective way for the sake of the clients. Pricing strategy is also determined by the look and ‘feel’ of the business to the client.
If you look well organized and your detail levels are excellent, not expensive but well thought through, a client will not feel the pinch of paying that extra Sh 200 bob for a shave. The difference between a barber shop and a kinyozi ceases to be the language, but becomes the functional connectivity a client gets when they get served by you. Their expectations are always met and they leave satisfied. That feeling of satisfaction is the emotional connectivity that develops from all the small details you took care of.
Your employees or members of staff also experience both types of connectivity with the business. When a discord between the two develops, as many employees will call time on their careers and the business will develop a high turn-over of employees; zeal and passion for work diminish and most will be deflated like a slow puncture.
We should work hard to ensure that all our customers develop both a positive functional and emotional connectivity towards us. The banking industry has evolved over the years to make more flexible lending facilities and to improve customer satisfaction. In my time at Credit Bank, we have simplified our processes and solutions to ensure that your business keeps moving forward no matter what adversity you face.
We recognize that our success is tied to our customers’ success.
By Eric Nyachae is the executive officer of business and strategy at Credit Bank Limited.