26 Jul 2019, 17:00 — 7 min read
Background: Customer-centricity is the new buzzword for all businesses. While good marketing may help make the first sale, it is customer service that ensures your customers keep coming back. In her previous article, Geet Jalota explored how stellar customer service has been the differentiating factor for 4 large companies. Here she explains how effective customer-service goes a long way in positively reinforcing brand value and image.
The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place. – George Bernard Shaw
If the master storyteller could be saying that about his trade, can you imagine the impact of this illusion for businesses?
However great you might think your product is, however great your advertising campaign may be, and however great an induction programme you may have, the problem is that none of it is of any use unless the person talking to the customer knows so and communicates so. I had done an assignment in a company once which used to hire only engineering graduates to solve customers’ technical problems. We were told that the programme should cover advanced customer service skills as basic skills have already been taught to frontline staff. On a pre programme audit, to our dismay we found huge queues of customers on one counter, while other counters were empty with employees sitting idle. They know their job very well, no doubt about that, but the decision to help out at the other counter is not written in job description; it is an attitude inculcated and rewarded in a culture.
Customer experience is the new benchmark for brand value and needless to say, customer service personnel are an integral part of this process.
And that is what we did, during the programme we focused on building teamwork, and the post programme results are here for you to read. Bhavin Jankharia shares his experience:
“Three days ago, with quite some trepidation, I called customer care to try and get my ADSL Internet connection reactivated (I had disconnected it, in a fit of anger two years ago) and I was not particularly looking forward to making this call, given my earlier experiences. A matronly sounding lady picked up in 2 rings. We spoke in Hindi. She was polite, nice, answered all my questions, asked some questions of her own, put me on a short hold to clarify some stuff and gave me my order number. A normal person…speaking normally and not from some stupid, idiotic script…happy & willing to help & sort things out.
I thought this was a one-off, but the next morning, I received another call to clarify a few other issues. Again, it was a slightly elderly lady calling, more comfortable in Hindi than English (but how does that matter), and willing to help.
If this organisation’s customer service can reinvent itself and create a reasonably nice and homely experience (wittingly or unwittingly), why can’t others do the same?”
All customers crave to be looked after. Customer experience is the new benchmark for brand value and needless to say, customer service personnel are an integral part of this process.
Creating a customer-oriented culture
Consistency in customer service does not happen by accident, learning and development function has to monitor customer touch points to ensure service is being delivered in the “manner” expected. I interviewed two experts from Dubai on how they ensure customer service excellence in their respective organisations.
Sunil Iyer, Assistant Director of Learning and Development of Hotel Rose Rayhaan underlines the importance of customer service in the hospitality industry. He opines, “In hotels, we only have Guests. Being able to bring a smile on their face is an indication of how the guest perceives the service being given by colleagues. This message is clearly communicated to every colleague. Guest satisfaction comments are read and monitored everyday – on travel booking websites, comment cards and guest satisfaction score on each colleague satisfaction survey. Additionally, individual colleague’s accountability is aligned with overall guest satisfaction.”
Mr Iyer explains that Learning & Development measures works through, “On job trainings to impart Skills, Knowledge as per the SOP’s; off job trainings to impart knowledge and behaviours. In addition, every new colleague has an individual training plan for 60 days & performance evaluation before being assigned work. This is measured by direct observations, mystery checks, compliance and guest satisfaction scores.”
Implementation of customer service initiatives needs to be closely measured and monitored. Communicating expectations clearly is more likely to lead to compliance.
Formal systems need to be in place to measure expectations are being met
Leading with customer-centricity
Customer-centricity is the heart of retail businesses. Hessa Al Ghurair, Head of HR at Tanfeeth, shares her company’s approach to putting employees at the centre of business strategy.
Hessa explains hoe Tanfeeth an HR oriented organization. She shares, “As a Business Services Partner, we deliver results through lean transformations and by continuously improving processes and services. This is only possible through your people. Even with the best technology and processes, without employees who are knowledgeable and motivated enough to live such transformational changes every day and drive continuous improvement through their in-depth knowledge of processes and customers, it’s impossible to succeed.”
She adds, “Employee empowerment and engagement is crucial for continuous improvement. It ensures employees have the skills, autonomy and motivation to use problem-solving tools to enhance service quality.”
Align HR system to long-term strategic goals
Organisations grow when employees grow
Processes and technology aren’t enough – it’s people who drive results
Image courtesy: shutterstock.com
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Posted byGeet Mala Jalota
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