The customer service mantra has surely been spread far and wide now. Yet somehow, Zimbabwean businesses still have a horrible reputation when it comes to customer service. To that end, we are going to look at some practical customer service tips that you can implement in your business today. The fact is while many people can readily tell you what good customer service is not very few would be able to tell you what it consists of. As a result, I see many customer service tips that are simply a list of “don’ts”. The problems here are that these tend to be reactive and also a “don’t” is just the absence of negative activity and not equivalent to the presence of a positive one.
In international fast-food franchises such as McDonalds and Subway they call it the 3-second rule. Greet the customer within 3 seconds of them entering the store. What makes it odd is that in our tradition greeting is deeply entrenched but it somehow seems to have disappeared in business. A good cheerful greeting making some feel welcome is all that is required. If one is otherwise occupied letting them know they will wait also goes a long way. This, of course, can be extended to social media and online platforms. Greet and interact with those who choose to contact you or comment on your platforms.
Take care of employees
This one is probably the biggest one you need to implement but also the toughest one in our current settings. I’m sure you would agree though that sending a demoralised and discouraged employee out there to employ the 3-second rule would be disastrous. So it is important to ensure that staff are in decent spirits. You as an employer cannot fix everything wrong but you can certainly assist and at the very least not be an additional source of pain.
I’m sure we’ve bludgeoned this one to death but it seems the message is just not being heeded. Econet has experienced 3 major outages this year and while the causes for them varied they can all be sufficiently summed up as being caused by the operating environment. It has taken Econet some time to simply come out and say what we all already know because we are living through it; times are tough. This message, coming only now has not been well received as far I’ve seen. While we are on that note communication is not something you do when you’re facing challenges, its something you do all the time. I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with some small businesses who are absolute customer service champions. The moment I enquired they let me know exactly how the order would proceed. When there were challenges I was communicated with immediately with a contingency plan. That is communication.
Some businesses just have customer hostile processes. Is your process overly complex or confusing? One thing we must always bear in mind is that our customers don’t know as much about the business as we do, that’s why they come to us. Instead of simplifying the process for the customer many then go on to complicate it. While the question as to whether the customer needs a WordPress, java or PHP website may make sense to you, it doesn’t to them. They understand simple outcome-based language, they want a site where they can regularly update their customers on new products. So make it simple for them, streamline your process.
All around us, there are confirmations that things are getting tighter and tighter in the economy. Whatever business is left in your market give yourself the best chance of getting it by adhering to these four principles. Of course, some are easier to implement than others.