Working Hard to be Understood

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Working Hard to be Understood

May 19, 2020
Working Hard to be Understood

ith many businesses re-examining their entire business models due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the customer experience component has re-emerged as an important aspect for every business looking to pivot during these unprecedented times. To really examine the way one interacts with customers, a business is required to examine each of the core aspects of a business.

The rich linguistic diversity of Africa adds another wrinkle to this process, as making sure that customers can communicate in their native language becomes of significant importance.

Understanding Customers

Making sure that your customer is understood should be the main objective for every business. What good is a business without its customers? Yet somehow, there are still businesses that do not properly understand the needs and desires of their customers. The African market makes this even more complicated as the linguistic assortment of each of Africa’s nations means that even within one country there can be language barriers.

The first step to truly dealing with customer wants can be to put oneself in their shoes, to truly understand how it would feel to be misunderstood by a business. It is through this that one can understand how the customer then views the business after not being understood, and how unlikely the relationship is to progress.


As previously mentioned, a key factor in understanding customers in the continent of Africa is language. The magnificent range of languages across the continent can make it slightly more difficult for entrepreneurs and businesses to communicate with every single customer. The struggle of working across a language barrier is that at least one party will always be working in their second or third language. This means that at least one party will not be totally satisfied with the outcome of their negotiations, as they will not be able to wholly relate their wishes.

We believe that there must be a process of compromise to make sure that both parties are able to relate their desires in the most complete way possible. This may require concessions on the part of the native speakers, but it is the path most conducive to a good result.

Customer Effort

A concept that has begun to gain prominence over the last few weeks is that of customer effort, with the customer-business relationship going through some changes due to the lockdown. To examine the concept of customer effort is to really empathise with your customers, to imagine yourself in their shoes, going through the necessary steps to complete a purchase on their end. It is as if to fully traverse the buyer’s funnel from start to finish.

The main metrics currently used to measure Customer Effort are the CES (Customer Effort Score), the NPS (Net Promoter Score), and Customer Satisfaction. For a full and balanced idea of true Customer Effort, all three should be implemented. However, not all three are always needed for smaller businesses.

On the off chance that a customer leaves a transaction feeling unhappy, the business must make sure to close the circle. Which is to say, fully understand what could be improved to avoid the same unfortunate situation. The main objective is to ensure that the same customer would leave the same transaction happily in the future.

A business that enjoys high customer effort will also enjoy more repeat purchases from customers, and a more loyal customer base for the long-term.

Improving Customer Effort

The quest to improve customer effort is one that many a business has embarked upon. The main way to improve a Customer Effort is dependent on the model of the business. If a business relies heavily on staff-customer interaction for its effort, then improving the way staff interact with customers should be the path to follow. Quality assurance should be another area of interest, as a high quality of product almost guarantees an improved customer-business relationship, leading to repeated customer effort in subsequent purchases.

As previously mentioned, righting any wrongs that have soured a customer relationship is a must. Especially for smaller businesses, the spread of a poor experience by word of mouth or social media can be catastrophic.

New ways of measuring and improving Customer Effort are constantly being developed and refined. Cognitive, time and emotional efforts are new concepts being pioneered to measure customer effort and would definitely be things to look out for in regard to new customers.

The quest to perfect the customer experience is always ongoing, and we can only hope to get it as good as humanly possible.

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