2023 is said to be the year for immersive customer experience. In his comments to MaltaCEOs.mt, ROCS CEO Colin Aquilina homes in on the idea that, “customer experience goes way beyond products consumed or services used,” and that for companies to truly understand the importance of this, they might even want to consider having “the CEO serve as Chief Experience Officer”..

Mr Aquilina, who heads a company that has progressed into different sectors, ranging from retailing to real estate, broadcasting, travel, insurance, foreign recruitment and leisure, is a firm believer that “nowadays, customer experience starts right from the marketing being proposed, the brand promise being delivered, the sales process, the emergency contact service provided, right to the feedback after the actual contractual relationship ends.”

Speaking of the relevance this has to businesses in the months to come, the CEO points out that “customer experience must remain central to any company’s modus operandi, not only when people start spending less, but must be a constant in any company’s vision.”

“Obviously, customer experience very much depends on the people delivering such experience, and sometimes this means that it has to flow right from the very top, organically to the people making contact with the end customers not just in sales, but including ancillary roles such as housekeeping, maintenance, after sales, emergency contact centres, and also accounts,” he adds.

Mr Aquilina also speaks of the relevance that an immersive customer experience has at a time when people are spending less, due to inflation and other financial struggles they might be facing. He believes that this is when people spend their money at establishments or services where they are sure to get good value for money.

Compared to its European counterparts, Malta has quite often been perceived as lagging in the customer experience department. Commenting on this, the ROCS CEO said that “the advent of international franchises to Malta a few years back have raised the bar through the various standards of practices (SOPs) they implement worldwide, and the approach Maltese entrepreneurs with international experience have adopted throughout their organisations has lately improved the local scenario significantly.”

He also added that “as Maltese we tend to suffer from a mentality whereby good is good enough, however, such an approach should not be accepted, as it only renders our mission limited, and to a certain extent, useless.”

“Accountability is key in setting a high level of customer experience based on international standards,” Mr Aquilina affirmed, adding that “this does not mean that in Malta we cannot reach a certain degree of customer experience standards.”

“Indeed, through the years we have been renowned for our hospitality, however, lately, most locals have left certain jobs directly related to customer experience in the hands of people who do not necessarily understand  what the Maltese customer experience should be,” he added whilst explaining that he feels this is “partly a result of the HR shrinkage in the Maltese market and the fact that Maltese have become more choosy in what they are ready to do and less ready to be of service.”

So, what would an ideal way forward be moving into the new year?

According to Mr Aquilina “proper induction processes, continuous education, appropriate SOPS, constant checks and realistic KPIs are all tools which should be implemented in order to secure a customer experience which over-delivers on the clients’ expectations.”

“As with everything, we need to start from the root of the problem and if necessary, have the CEO be the first to serve as the Chief Experience officer,” Mr Aquilina concludes.

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