I am pretty sure that we all agree (by and large) that Customer Service in South Africa is not that great! And more than one of us had an extremely bad experience.
- Should a company policy be more flexible with its customers?
- Is the customer always right?
- Is it worth losing a customer?
- Should the company do something and compensate disappointed customers?
- and similar
Customer service is the most influential factor when it comes to making purchasing decisions, according to SAP consumer research conducted in September 2011. The quality of the service received defined the specific shops visited and even took precedence over price. It suggests that, with the right personalised service and in depth product knowledge, customers are willing to spend more money.
- Do collate customer information to build the fullest picture of your customer base and preferences.
- Do give relevant customer data to frontline staff so they recognise customers contacting the business.
- Do give frontline staff the power to resolve a customer’s problems rather than fobbing them off with excuses.
- Do offer customers all available channels to contact you – telephone, mobile, e-mail and internet.
- Do aim to build loyalty by creating a closer relationship – don’t try to buy it through giveaways.
- Do remember it’s much more cost effective to retain a happy customer than acquire a new one.
- Don't make promises you can’t keep. It’s impossible to devote the same resources to all customers. Some are more important than others and worth a greater investment.
- Don't assume everyone picks up the telephone when they want to talk to you – look to the web.
- Don't expect technology to answer all your customer service issues. Technology can help to build closer relationships, but it is better to focus on customer needs rather than technical capability.
- Don't assume that all feedback from customers is genuine – not all complaints make it through your feedback loop and you may have to go to the customer to get a true impression of your service.
Five tips for getting to grips with your customer service
1. Learn from each other. Consumers believe they get the best service in independent stores, meaning big brands could benefit from imitating the independents’ personalised approach.
2. Bridge the digital divide. The internet is the first port of call for many customers so it is vital retailers stay up to date with the channels needed to reach their audience; online and otherwise.
3. Keep it simple. The majority of consumers still prefer to make the final purchase in store rather than online. One of the main reasons consumers choose to shop online is to save time – so retailers can drive online sales by making the process as easy and simple as possible.
4. Go mobile. Don’t forget that customer service isn’t only applicable in-store. Customers are increasingly using different mobile and online services to access information and buy products. To deliver the best customer service businesses must deliver information whenever and however customers want.
5. Explore all channels. Smart retailers should proactively promote through multiple channels and find out which is most popular with the customer. As the use of smartphones increases, an easy-to-use app could be a differentiator and help businesses remain competitive.
Dr. Antony Michail
Anacalypsis Strategy & Marketing Consultants