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Marianne Atim: Good Customer Service Will Always Win

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“There is only one boss: the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton, Founder Wal-Mart

Last week I experienced two contrasting examples of customer service. One was very poor, and the other excellent. I accompanied a friend to the mall to pick up some items and make some repairs. On approaching the first store, we looked out for the sales staff to nudge them in our direction but no one saw us. After a few minutes of scanning around, we spotted a staff that was restocking the shelves. We walked over to her and asked if she could provide the service we wanted. Without looking at us she mumbled yes. We felt funny but still hoped she’d  leave what she was doing and give us some attention. When she did not budge, we asked her who in particular would assist us; to which she rudely retorted, “anybody can do it.” At this point, we were no longer interested and decided to try somewhere else.

As we went out towards the next store, we noticed the staff were standing close to the door and basically smiling at everybody passing by. When they were sure we were headed in their direction, they came to us and asked what they could help us with. Needless to say, we ended up buying from them and spending more than we had earlier intended simply because of their welcoming attitude.

Compare this with the first store and you can see how easily businesses lose money because of poor service. Good customer service endears people to you and helps you gain loyal customers. A bad experience on the other hand can stop you from acquiring new customers and even make you lose the ones you already have.

Generally, people are willing to patronize a business even when there are better alternatives just because of the way they are treated. Considering the stiff competition most businesses face, it is only wise that you invest in quality customer service delivery as a key component of your competitive advantage.

Below are some other bad customer service examples you should avoid in your business:

Unfriendly staff
Staff that do not smile and answer customers without looking up at customers or talking while staring at their computer screens or phones. It makes the customer feel like they are not important and says that the staff would rather be doing something more interesting.

Getting orders wrong
It is always infuriating when a business has gotten an order wrong and instead of rectifying it, they dismiss it by saying “it’s the same thing.”
When customers request an item, they want what they asked for. No additions, no subtractions. If for any reason you want to alter a customers order, you have to let them know you are making a change to their order.

Lying to customers
Closely related to point above is misleading customers either deliberately or not especially as it relates to delivery times and options. If you cannot meet a client’s need, be honest and let them know. When you deliver a good product late, you take the joy away for the moment and end up creating a bad reputation for your brand.

Handling complaints poorly
Does your business make it difficult to complain? If yes, you are not creating happy moments for your customers. In some instances a customer will be dissatisfied with a product or service and request to see a manager only to be told he or she is not around just to avoid a confrontation. Also making excuses and dismissing customer opinions is not good for your business.

Taking too long to respond
You are also losing customers if it takes you too long to respond to customer queries. Very often when a customer contacts you to provide additional information, they are probably thinking of buying. When you do not answer in a timely manner, they will move over to the next alternative.

Good customer service is a deliberate choice a business owner must make. It starts from training your team to understand why customer service is important and how it affects the bottom-line to impressing on them the need to smile and treat every person that walks through your doors as the only customer you have.

You should also ensure that all customer touch points are memorable. And as much as it is possible, strive to delight your customer. Treat your staff well so that they in turn are nice to your customers not only when you are around but also in your absence.

What are your experiences of good or bad customer service? Please share in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Tyler Olson

Project Manager and Certified Small Business Consultant at Owens & Xley Consults. I work with entrepreneurs looking to start, grow or bring structure to their business. I am passionate about building sustainable organizations. Website: www.owensxley.com Twitter: @owensxley Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owensxley

6 Comments

  1. Ba

    November 19, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Fab article. Is easy to sway from such act which needs discipline and culture building.

  2. Cindy

    November 19, 2015 at 8:21 am

    Personally, he first thing I look at in a business is customer service. Your product might be wack but a good customer service makes me stay. As for banks diamond and access are the best in terms of customer service. Firstbank is just terrible. As for zenith and Skye, slip-sealed. Shop rite needs to employ better staff too. They can’t smile to save their lives. My opinion is not based on one branch. At least I have been around a lot of these business branches in the Lagos-Ibadan axis.

  3. Joy

    November 19, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Truth be told, good customer services goes a long way in moving businesses forward and ensuring repeat purchase but have we sometimes looked at it from the person receiving the service. I personally dont condone bad service but what happens when ure attending to someone that’s already irate and all the person wants to do is just shout at you becos he/she was annoyed from where ever they re coming from and it doesn’t matter how “servicy” you are, you still get shouted at or spoken to in a dehumanizing way.

    What happens then? especially if the customer isn’t truly right! forget the Customer is always right cliche, its so overrated.
    oh well!

    • Wandidoo

      November 19, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      I think the customer is always right…where they come in already irritable, the staff are only required to be as polite as possible and not aggravate the customer more or be indifferent. You do not have to kiss their feet, but just do your part to the best of your ability….and training!

  4. @Joy

    November 19, 2015 at 12:04 pm

    i’ve worked in a call centre, the company messes up and you’re on the receiving end of it. It doesn’t matter how irate the customer gets , you’re paid to take it.

  5. Concerned fellow

    November 20, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Lovely write up. A customer centric company must have put in a lot to achieve the “title”. Please a customer is not always right. It’s the responsibility of the service staff to guide the customer. From experience its the fact. Also for Nigerian companies that are still myopic, they should be encouraged to invest in their staff and their welfare. You can sack a bad staff and hire another who becomes a menace. Frankly no company in Nigeria can achieve the milestone, just pray to meet a dedicated staff on duty. #myopinion

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