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St. Louis’ own globally renowned customer service expert and New York Times best-selling author Shep Hyken and I just returned from a one-week corporate and people engagement visit to Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy.

Hyken was a hit because he successfully connected with the wide demographic of the public, including young, newly minted university graduates, the business leaders from health care to government and even politicians.

His message throughout the engagement was commitment – how to deliver a customer service experience that disrupts the competition and creates fierce loyalty. That’s the focus of his recently published book The Convenience Revolution.

His message to the thousands of people he met on this, his second visit to Africa’s most populous nation, was to use customer service as a competitive advantage. So how can you disrupt your competition and maybe even an entire industry? The answer: Be convenient!

Hyken stressed that whether you’re trying to out-service a competitor or disrupt an entire industry, creating less friction and being more convenient for your customers should be your strategy. When you raise the convenience bar, you create the next level of amazing customer experience. And when you do, your customers will reward you with their money, their loyalty and their referrals. That’s the advantage of joining the “convenience revolution.”

Hyken used the example of “convenience stress.” There’s a reason convenience stores are called that – they’re convenient! Customers who shop at such stores know the selection is smaller and the prices are often higher, yet they still come in droves because of the ease of purchase.

How about the minibar in your hotel room? That’s convenient, too, but it comes at a cost. After all, the same $5 Coca-Cola in the hotel’s minifridge can be bought down the hall from a vending machine for just $1.25. Yet even with that can of Coke being four times more expensive than one available a short walk away, hotels are restocking minibars every day.

“What is the one takeaway from your new book?” I ask Hyken, and he says, “Our customers are smarter than ever. They know what good service is. They know what convenient service is. Companies like Amazon have taught them, and now they expect it from every company they do business with. It’s simple: Customers will choose to do more business with the people and companies that are easiest – as in most convenient – to do business with.”

Hyken’s new contribution to the customer service literature is perhaps his best – ever. I suggest you pick it up and engage your organization in a conversation. I’m confident the results will be evident quickly.

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande is the senior advisor to the chancellor and director of the Africa Initiative at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as former president of Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He has a Ph.D. in economics and previously served as dean of the George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology at Webster University.

Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande is senior advisor to the chancellor Washington University St. Louis, former president of Westminster College. He has a Ph.D. in economics and previously served as dean Walker School of Business & Technology Webster University.