I want to start this piece by correcting an impression most employees and entrepreneurs have about customer service relationship and a customer relationship officer. First, customer relationship as a concept is not different from human relations. What am I trying to say? You cannot separate people skill from customer relationship skills. They are ideally the same thing. You cannot claim to be improving on your customer management skills, without improving on your people management skills. In other words, you can’t have poor inter-personal skill and claim to be building a career in customer service. If you can understand, manage and harness human behavior, you can automatically demonstrate superior customer management skills. Customers are first people, before they become customers. So, emphasis should be placed on overall development of your human relations and people management skills.
Secondly, the concept and the expertise of customer relationship is not an exclusive reserve of people building a career as customer service officers or representative. I believe that, if the ultimate objective of every business is to make profit by satisfying customers and clients, then the culture of superior customer service or relationship should not be left to employees in customer service roles.
The above reasons contribute immensely to the poor quality of customer service that is obtainable in many businesses and organisations that operate in Nigeria.
With the current recession that is plaguing our economy, businesses and corporate institutions are devising and implementing strategies that can enable them survive and compete effectively in the market place. Organizations are downsizing, developing new products, cutting down on costs and intensifying sales campaign. Employees are also apprehensive of the trend and everybody is looking for a way to remain relevant and not go under.
As important as product development and aggressive marketing is, or even rightsizing, an organization that must thrive in this period must make delivering superior customer service experience a priority. The economy is hard. People are struggling and holding unto to their money. So when somebody goes out of his comfort zone to patronize your product or service, the least expected of you is to leave that customer with a delightful experience. Superior customer delight is the strategy that you as an individual can use to attract and hold unto new accounts. It is the only way for businesses to increase pricing and still attract and retain customers.
However, for this to be achieved, we must begin to see the culture of customer relationship differently.
A customer is defined as someone who is in the habit of patronizing your services or goods. But if we continue to view customers from that prism, it negatively affects our ability to deliver superior customer service – both as individuals or as organisations.
For me, customers are simply people: business or no business, sales or no sales. If every employee can understand this irrespective of job role, then we can start making conscious effort in sharpening our people skill. Any organization or business that understands that customers are simply people with emotional, psychological, economic needs and invests time and resources in communicating this to her employees until a culture of superior customer relationship is attained will effortlessly stay ahead of the competition even in this recession.
Creating a delightful customer experience in this times is beyond having people stationed at the entrance of your business religiously screaming “Good Morning, welcome to XYZ Company” and “Thank you for patronising us” without having any clue of what transpires inside.
Developing a winning customer care culture goes beyond working as a call center agent, calling people only when you want to communicate a new product or promo or taking and resolving customer complaints without feedback. The annoying thing about the customer service of this organizations with call centers is that when you contact them to lay a complaint, a supposed customer service officer responds with an assurance of fixing whatever issue it is. You wait for some time, the issue is not resolved; you place another call, only for you to be directed to an entirely different customer service officer and you have to start all over again.
What happened to feedback? Who said that a call center rep cannot call a customer to find out if an issue he complained about have been resolved? What will it cost organisations to offer the extra care?
Customer relationship has nothing to do with always wearing a fake smile. The economy is not smiling. A lot of persons are in no mood for that smile. People have got a lot of issues they are dealing with and all you can do is smiling at them.
Yes, I understand that at times that smiles or genuine smiles can be contagious, but I still think that an important attribute every employee must have to function excellently in customer relationship role is EMPATHY. Your ability to look at a person and know when and when not to smile makes the difference.
Customer relationship is simply human relations. It is not something you assume when you get to the workplace or your business premises. If you don’t demonstrate excellent people skills at home, you can’t fake customer relationship skills at work. It will be a struggle.
Customers are simply people. If you can understand human wants, desires and idiosyncrasies and also how to harness them to win people over to your own line of thought without having to argue, then that is what customer relationship skill is all about.
Anyway, next week Monday is my birthday. Yes!
To that effect, I will be offering free virtual coaching on customer relationship to the first 10 persons that will indicate interest by sending me a mail. Then I am also offering 28% discount to the first two organisations that contacts me for a class on Superior Customer Relationship.
Have a great day and stay productive.
Photo Credit: Diego Vito Cervo | Dreamstime.com