An extremely unhealthy culture is taking root in the Kenyan political arena, as recently witnessed from our politicians easy on the lips with insults and abusive language targeting their opponents. Institutions and leaders including the presidency have not been spared this communication circus! The presidency for example is an office that must be respected as a symbol of national unity. This behaviour is disrespectful both to the object of the politicians abuse, as well as the electorate, who are forced to consume these unsavoury statements.

As an electorate we should demand responsible utterances from our leaders and respect for our institutions. We must not allow this unacceptable culture to get entrenched. While the law must be enforced against such irresponsible politicians, our vote as an electorate should also indicate our intolerance for politicians’ misconduct in addition to electing our preferred leaders. Just like unhappy customers who vote with their feet taking their business elsewhere, we should cast our vote away from vile politicians.

CustomerServiceWeekThe International Customer Service Week is here with us – the first week of October of every year! Customer loyalty and patronage is celebrated globally across customer-centric organisations. Throughout this week such organisations plan impactful initiatives to demonstrate to their customers that they value their patronage. In tandem with this global campaign, one of the key principles of customer experience is delivering of promises made to customers, and meeting the customers’ expectations.

For the Kenyan politician, every election cycle brings intensified campaigns with many promises made to the electorate by politicians on the campaign trail. These promises shape the voters expectation of service delivery should the politician be elected. Regrettably campaign pledges have proved to be mere rhetoric in many instances, as several remain unfulfilled once the politician is elected. These same ‘ambitious’ Kenya politicians return shamelessly at each election to seek a new political mandate. The resultant effect has been millions of shillings spent campaigning and trying to convince voters for a new mandate, with frequent allegations of voter bribery.

If voters just like customers are to vote strictly based on service delivery and met expectations, then the customer experience-angled politician should have an easy time at the ballot. The voter will not require much convincing. Having sent their child to the nearby CDF-built school, received affordable and available drugs from the CDF dispensary using a boda boda on the smooth CDF-built and tarmacked road and swallowed their medicine with clean CDF-financed piped water – surely they would believe the aspiring politician’s claim that if elected, the CDF dispensary will be upgraded to a level-5 hospital.

This should be an easy vote to garner. Politics and customer experience are directly linked as far as meeting the customers promise is concerned. For politicians of integrity out there, customer experience ought to be at the heart of your campaign, as you deliver on your promises, prove you are both reliable and responsive to the electorate’s needs.

For every customer in Kenya, whether consuming government or private services, this is a season when attention is equally divided between Customer Service Week and politics. The electioneering period is not over with repeat presidential elections only weeks away following the historic Supreme Court ruling that nullified the August 8th 2017 presidential elections. This week in Kenya therefore lends itself very well to consider Customer Experience and the Politician. Every customer must think about their leaders and whether there are getting the customer experience they deserve.

Delivering on promises consistently builds trust and credibility and enhances loyalty attributes that are central to the both customer experience and politics. Politicians, who often tend to break these customer experience rules, could lose both the electorates trust and credibility entirely. Their credibility is suspect and a number resort to political propaganda, mud-slinging and character-assassination of political opponents to gain political mileage. This is a fragile and unsustainable platform upon which to build a political foundation. Discerning electorate easily see through these shenanigans and make their voice heard through the ballot. Politicians akin to customer experience practitioners ought to build their political careers based on building genuine trust and credibility with the electorate, built upon a reputation of tangible and visible delivery on promises made.

Outstanding politicians of repute will be distinguished by their level of personal and political maturity, respect for the electorate, similar to the customer experience principle of respect for customers. Respect and maturity can be demonstrated in responsible utterances irrespective of political persuasion. We are becoming increasingly politically savvy as a country and customer experience principles will progressively take centre stage in shaping our expectations and whom we elect to lead us. Politicians who embrace these principles will have an easier time at the ballot than those who opt for mere rhetoric and politicking rather than service delivery.

As we celebrate International Customer Service week, our recognition and appreciation goes out to all politicians reputed for outstanding maturity, service delivery, credibility and integrity, and who genuinely show respect for their voters. Which of our politicians can stand up to be counted?

Benta Okinyi-Aseto – a Board member with the Institute of Customer Experience Kenya (ICX Kenya) and CEO of CELCOS Africa Limited, has had extensive experience as a leader and practitioner in the area of Customer Experience.