In an attempt to woo prospective customers, many organisations resort to fancy big-ticket marketing campaigns that seem to offer value one simply can’t refuse. It is not uncommon for prospects to receive the royal “red-carpet”, usually complemented with an elaborate sales pitch of benefits the customer will receive on signing the dotted line.
Once the paperwork is administered, that’s when all “good things come to an end”, as the saying goes. The prospective customer is now known as customer 1234567Z, becoming a mere statistic in the organisation’s vast customer database. Customer 1234567Z threads along his busy daily routine until one fine day when he experiences some dissatisfaction with the product or service that he has paid for. Immediately he rings the organisation for help and clarification only to receive the standard “I’m sorry sir, our company policy does not allow …” or “your payment does not include …” response.
Imagine how one feels as he walks aimlessly in a pitch-dark room and keeps knocking his head against the wall. Due to poor visibility, he does not know if he will ever find his way out of the room. Anxiety, frustration, and disappointment are just some of the emotions a customer goes through when they are uninformed of an organisation’s policy, procedures, rules and regulations. Worse still, if these emotions have resulted from systems or people that are not customer oriented.
Weaving service successfully into daily operations does not occur overnight. For an organisation to reach the “million dollar roundtable” in service, it needs to establish a customer-focused culture that permeates the entire organisation where every employee lives and breathes service in everything they do. A useful acronym that paves the way for an organisation that endeavors in building a service culture is M-I-N-D-S-E-T.
1. MAKE SERVICE A STRATEGY
Identify the value proposition that you wish to offer to your customers, then, weave it as part of the organisation’s service strategy. For example, the value proposition that amazon.com puts forward to her customers is the hassle-free ordering process (you order the book and we’ll do the rest). The key is to be unique and exclusive enough to make the customer notice.
2. INTERNALISE THE MESSAGE OF SERVICE
Everyone knows that providing good service to the customer is important. But, how many of your staff truly believe that they have to do what it takes to provide excellent, unbelievable, legendary, fabled service to each valuable customer that walks through the door?
Internalizing the service message means that each and every key staff embraces service as a way of life. One strategy would be to align key employee processes to service quality. For example, the moment an employee joins the organisation, a customer-focused mindset should be instilled by emphasising service concepts during the induction, orientation, on-the-job coaching as well as through built-in rewards and recognition systems.
3. NEW WAY OF WORKING
Look at your processes from the customers’ perspective i.e walk the path of your customer. Identify any “irritating” processes that disgruntled car owners are required to park their vehicle and wait patiently while the attendant attempts hurriedly to pump fuel. The owner then must proceed to the cashier to make payment. Mobil’s card minimises hassle. Make it a point, to understand why they are unhappy and modify these processes to meet and exceed their expectations.
The new Mobil Fuel Card is an excellent example. Traditionally, by simply installing a device to the rear of the vehicle, the driver parks the vehicle, fills up petrol and drives off. He is billed at a later stage for the fill-up: No queues, no hassle, no unnecessary waits at the counter, not to mention improved efficiency at the petrol kiosk.
4. DELIGHT CUSTOMERS EVERY TIME
Although it isn’t guaranteed that a delighted customer will continue to patronise the organisation indefinitely, the likelihood that a delighted customer continues to support the organisation is indeed high. Seize every opportunity as a golden opportunity to display how much you care for your customer, and they will reciprocate by more ways than the organisation will ever know.
5. SEEK TO CONTINUALLY IMPROVE
Organisations that continue to remain at the forefront of service excellence look at change as an opportunity to “wow” customers. Identify redundancies and challenge the current way of performing present tasks. Winners in the service quality arena constantly strive to overcome new frontiers by constantly reviewing and revamping their service delivery function.
6. EMPOWER STAFF
Ensure that your staff is empowered to make decisions. There is nothing more frustrating to a customer than when he is told that he cannot have assisted him because the boss is unavailable, and the employee does not have the authority to make such decisions. Rising customer expectations coupled with the need to get things done by “yesterday” makes it important for management to consider greater empowerment for their staff.
7. TRAIN – TRAIN & TRAIN
Customer service training should begin with the top rung of the organisation, then cascaded down to the rest of the employees. Senior management must not only develop an appreciation for service at strategic and operational levels, but also fully support all efforts made in developing a service culture. There is no greater encouragement for an employee than to see the big bosses practicing what they preach.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, developing a service culture requires commitment, patience and a most importantly a service M-I-N-D-S-E-T.