An incident occurred a few days ago at the offices of one of our GSM Communications Companies here in Monrovia, between a customer service representative (CCR) and an UNMIL officer whom I believe is from the Asian region. It happened that the officer had a problem with his phone and services provided by the company, and so he took it to the company’s offices for solutions.
The conversation between the two claimed the attention of a few of the customers and soon it became clear that the UNMIL personnel encountered another problem-communication. Words like: “why happen way your phone;” “then no;” “they program ends;” “an know why this man saying (this answer from the CCR was in response to inquiries from her fellow employees)…” frequently came out of the mouth of the Customer Care Representative. At this point the UNMIL Officer began to feel so embarrassed that he felt he had caused an offense and was confused about the way in which the conversation was going and in the manner in which other customers were staring at them.
For an hour nothing was achieved and there was absolutely no solution found to the problem of his phone as the challenge of understanding the Customer Care Representative increased all the more. A whole hour was wasted. At least twenty other customers’ problems could have been solved within that hour that was wasted.
A survey was taken among customers to discover why they quit buying goods from certain stores. Here is what they discovered: 1% die; 3% move away; 5% other friendships; 9% competitive reasons; 14% product dissatisfaction; and 68% because of an attitude of indifference shown to them by an employee.
Every business needs to stay closed to the customer. As it is said, the customer is king. Without the customer you wouldn’t be able to do business. Successful businesses are successful because they understand that the customers reign supreme. Customers must not be treated as nobodies as it is being practiced here today in our business culture. Understand that customers are the recipients of products that last, service delivered promptly. But, more important, the good news comes from treating customers decently. And so what we see in Liberia is that the customer is either ignored or is seen as nobody. Understand that successful businesses learn from the people they serve.
Have genuine concern or care for the customers, a conducive atmosphere for friendship and a smile from your staff. Let your staff members put away unfriendly attitudes and pay much attention to customers. When customers have complaints, in many cases, their complaints are ignored and they don’t seem to get a redress. Sometimes customer care phones would ring the longest and there wouldn’t be any representative to pick it up, and in some cases there will be a representative right on the spot but would preferred to ignore the call and get on with their private matters. So why was the customer care phone service instituted in the first place?
Know that you are in business because there is someone to buy or do business with and that someone is the customer, so you need to give them serious attention. Sadly, most of the businesses in the service provision in Liberia lacked commitment to service and this can be seen in the attitude of their staff members. Don’t just take my words. Go there at their offices and see for yourself.
I, therefore, want to make an appeal to our service provision companies, especially our GSM companies and banking institutions in Liberia; to care more for customers and provide them with good/unparalleled service. Create a speedy service system and have a goal to attend to each customer, say for instance three minutes or less. Know that the extraordinary quality service you provide them will make you to stand out. While it is true that Liberians are enjoying the GSM and banking services, offers and/or bonuses, and for this I want to applaud you, let care for customers and people orientation, genuine concern for service and quality be your heart and you must appreciate the need to put the customer at the center of your activities. Let your staff members know that customers are not a burden or pain in their neck. It is because of them (customers) that they (your employees) are employed and that you are in business.
Offer some English courses to your staff members so that they’ll communicate clearly with customers. This is very important since in fact we have a mixture of people from different parts of the world. Let your staff members; at least, be able to speak Standard English for especially communicating with the foreigners in our midst.
To our customer care representatives, there are many customer service skills that you will need and I want to offer the advice below. Listening and answering question(s) as efficiently as possible are important both on phone and in person. When you are in conversation with a customer, it is very important to give that person your fullest attention. You want to show that you do understand what the problem or concern is and that you are trying to solve it. Treating a person with respect and showing sympathy show that you have good customer service training. There will always be difficult situation(s) that you will need to handle. Be polite, calm, friendly, and pay full attention to customer’s complaints and concerns.
It is important to have good verbal communication skills so that the information is delivered successfully. You need to listen before you speak. Listening to what is said to you is very important. In fact listening is probably the most important part of communicating with others. You don’t want to be doing something else when someone is talking with you, even if it is by phone. It’s important that you give your full attention to that person so that you will listen to what they have to say.
There will always be differing opinions when you work with others but be sure that you think before you speak so that the words used would convey the appropriate response and answer. Be sure also to use the appropriate tone in your voice as well. This can be difficult especially with different people or situation. How you manage incoming and outgoing telephone calls could be a big part of your job.
I want our companies, especially those in service provision, including our GSM companies and banks, to take note of the above because the image your staff built is not only for themselves but for your company as well as for Liberia.
(Chealy Brown Dennis is a marketing and business development consultant. He is also a much sought after motivational speaker and offers training in leadership, creative sales and marketing, strategic planning and team building. He also offers on-location and train-the-trainer formats for leaders, managers, businesses and organizations. He can be contacted through email at: firstname.lastname@example.org or on phone at: 0886-264-611 or 0770-169-131)