Articles

Trevor Noah, in his latest show It's My Culture, cracks jokes about how angry, hostile frontline staff is common-place in commerce and industry in South Africa. While the situations he joke about make great material for comedy, it certainly reflect badly on what has become thorns in side of business.

'In order for a culture of customer service excellence to grow and thrive, management must have a burning desire for it to be that way and the energy to ensure that this desire spreads throughout the organisation and remains there permanently. You must become a totally customer-focused organisation. Everyone, from the top down, must believe that

they work for the customer.' (Peggy Marrow)

What steps are we taking to enhance customer service systems and standards, regardless of the business sector we work in or the level at which we operate? Are we focusing on the development of professionalism within the workplace with regards to sales and customer service functionality? How do we improve relationships between companies and their clients and so doing improve the standard of customer service?

The foundation of customer service excellence is knowing your customers. This knowledge includes understanding their behavioural and sensory perceptual styles. We also need to look at cost of poor customer service and be able to deal professionally with customers across a range of situations. Critical to this process is effectively handling customer queries and complaints. Proactive steps need to be taken to increase customer retention and decrease defection. Customer retention programmes have to be explored along with strategies to improve customer loyalty.

Ultimately it is about establishing and maintaining a culture of customer service excellence. To do this we need to question and engage with our underpinning values and understand how commitment to these values impact positively on customer service delivery. Key markers which reveal the values that we hold includes the environment and atmosphere we create, our body language, the way we speak to each other, who is included and who is excluded and what counts as ‘respect’.

What are your values and are these shared values in the company or organisation that you serve? What are you doing to improve the customer service knowledge, skills, values and attitudes in your team? Constant exposure to professional development training programmes are essential to instil and enhance these attributes. Businesses are encouraged to give their staff the opportunity to learn more about customer service and should take up the many opportunities that are on offer for skills development in this regards.

 

Noel Daniels

Chairperson: Human Resource Committee

 

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16 April 2014