Golden rules of customer service

2012-12-11 00:00

SOMEONE said customer service is not a department, it’s an attitude.

International research tells us that the quality of a customer’s experience has a direct bearing on sales, profit and overall market position.

Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, put it more colourfully, “There is only one boss. The customer.

“And he can fire everybody in the company simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

Cleary, everyone in an organisation should be concerned about customer care. Whether in accounts or human resources, every employee should constantly worry about how well the sales and customer care departments are handling customers — and should do everything he or she can to help them.

What is the key to superior customer care? Why do some companies get it right and some so spectacularly wrong? What can your business do differently?

I asked a few local companies known for their service, and whose care for their customers keeps me coming back, “What is your secret?”

Sue Malherbe of Coffeeberry Café was clear: “Look after your staff. We try to focus on making our staff happy, because, if your staff are happy, they will pass it on to your customers.

“You also end up with lower staff turnover, which makes for better relationships with customers.”

That was confirmed for me as one of the waiters brought a cappuccino to a customer who had just arrived with a friend.

The customer was very embarrassed because she was not staying for coffee this time, but she was clearly very pleased to be known and remembered.

International trend watchers agree with Sue. They tell us that the shift is away from putting focus on the customer, to putting it on the employee who delivers the customer experience.

Warwick Hulbert of Moffatt Optical said: “Think about what you want when you walk into a business, and make sure you give it to your customers. Make the customer happy whatever the cost.”

That’s a scary idea, but it pays for itself over and over in customer loyalty. Warwick reminds us that no one has ever won an argument with a customer, because customer service is not what we do, but what our customers experience. As someone said: “Everyone makes mistakes; it’s what happens next that matters.”

Donovan Reddiar of the MTN outlet located in Cascades recognises the difficulties his customers face, and tries to make it easy for them to do business with MTN. “Understand where your customers are coming from. They won’t follow all your rules and regulations [such as keeping warranty forms for 12 months]. How can you make it easier for them?”

How easy is it to do business with your company? Have you checked your website lately? Do all the links work? Are all the telephone numbers and e-mail addresses correct? Do the receptionists know where to direct customers, even those with unusual requests?

Sandra Gjersoe of Johannesburg-based CBM Training told me about an unusual training request she had received.

When the potential customer asked doubtfully whether CBM could cater for his unusual needs, she responded: “But that’s all we ever do.” What a refreshing response, and how different from the more common: “If it’s not on the menu, you can’t have it.”

Customer service (good or bad) is what your customers talk about.

How far will you go for your next customer? Who in your organisation need to be reminded of their role in the customer experience?

Ian Webster is from Simply Communicate, a training and development company.

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.