How to provide proper customer service
It is ironic that businesses spends billions of rands on advertising campaigns to lure new clients, but not nearly enough is spent on ensuring that clients do not defect to the opposition because of poor service.
What does proper customer service mean? For one person it can mean friendly and helpful staff or merely the way that he is greeted.
For another it is they way in which the telephone is answered and for a third it might mean proper after-sale service or that the promises in advertisements is adhered to. The most important hint that business owners can get, is that they should make customer service a priority – not once-off, but on a continuous basis.
As consultant, I have again experienced that even if all the business owners and their staff are 100% correct in the actions, the perception of the client pertaining to the service is of the utmost importance.
It is when the client is dissatisfied that he will spread the word about how poor the customer service is in the specific business – often unjustified criticism and very demotivating for the staff of a business.
The question can therefore righteously be asked whether customers will ever be 100% satisfied?
Most probably not, but the manner in which the dissatisfied customer is dealt with, could possibly help to calm the moods.
It is especially smaller businesses that should be able to provide faster and more efficient customer service because the structures are often more complicated as those of larger business. problems are identified quicker and complaints are resolved faster.
The most important hint that business owners can get is that they should take customer service seriously – not in a once-off manner, but continuously.
An efficient customer service culture should be created to which everyone in the business should adhere. Owners or management should attempt to ‘catch out’ their staff doing something good. Proper customer service is a positive action and during staff meetings should be handled as such.
* All members of staff should continuously be trained to provide proper customer service – concentrate on the positive rather that the negative examples of service delivery;
*Members of staff should be encouraged to receive recognition for good customer service;
* Customer satisfaction should become a way of life for everyone in the business.
The battle against poor service is won the day when everyone in the organisation acknowledges that the customer is the best asset of the business; that the business is in its entirety dependent on its clients and not the other way round; and that a complaint is an opportunity to deliver superior service, should it be resolved in a manner to the satisfaction of the customer.
The secret is that each employee should acknowledge the value of proper customer service and should provide superior customer service in every situation.
Prof Tommie du Plessis
Director: NWU Potchefstroom Business School