This year’s customer service week will be celebrated from October 7-11. Its theme is “The magic of service”. It is an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve customers daily. As the theme suggests service has a magic touch on it. It is the proverbial magic wand that changes everything it touches.
Ask any CEO or staff member and they will tell you how important the customer is to their operations, hence success. As a good- hearted person attracts people so does good service while poor service puts off people. Service cuts across all sectors of the industry and while good service is expected in all sectors there are other areas that are more sensitive.
Take an example of the hospital where patients suffering from a range of physical and emotional pain come through the door, good customer service requires that the patient will be received promptly and in a polite and empathetic way by the receptionist and the proper service is extended by the nurses and doctors as well.
Unfortunately, there are numerous cases of poor service offered to patients in hospitals typical of most public hospitals in Kenya. There is the case of call centre agents in service sectors such as banking and telecommunications where the service providers are expected to answer the calls promptly, be good listeners through conveying sincerity and giving correct information with enthusiasm. The language used maters in customer service. For instance rather than say “hang on for a second” how about saying “kindly wait as I confirm this”.
In the wake of e-commerce several organisations now rely on selling their goods and services through online channels. E-commerce companies have to deal with a high number of customer complaints brought about by wrong deliveries, delayed deliveries or no deliveries altogether. The customer service provider is expected to handle these complaints with excellent follow up and well explained instructions while calming down an angry customer as best as they can.
The following three major needs rule the world of great customer service.
Price -The cost of everything we purchase is becoming more and more important. People want to use their financial resources as efficiently as possible keeping in mind value for money
Quality- This mandates that manufacturers and distributors produce products that live up to the customer’s expectation of durability. Customers are less likely to question price when doing business with a company that has a reputation for producing high quality products.
Timely action- Customers need action when a problem or question arises. Many companies offer poll free customer assistance telephone lines, flexible return polices, and customer carry-out services in response to the need for action.
The rule of thumb is to be credible in providing service. Credibility constitutes a combination of our current knowledge reputation, and professionalism. Before we forget CEOs, Presidents and directors of companies need to remember their first customers, the internal customer also known as staff members. How you treat your staff members will mostly reflect their motivation for work and the way they will in turn treat your clients.
The court of public opinion has crucified many service providers for offering poor and incompetent service to clients. True, work pressure and office politics are not a justification for being rude to customers yet it is only fair and right that the staff be treated right.