A customer is the most important visitor in our premises. He is not dependent on us, we are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider on our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour but he is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to serve him – Mahatma Gandhi.
n practice, effective customer service is a basic prerequisite for the attainment of organizational strategies and managing organizations’ productivity, but it has remained one of the greatest challenges facing modern management. Ineffective customer service is detrimental to any organization. It can lead to poor performance, strained interpersonal relations and high level of stress both for employees and the customer. Employees at all levels need to be good communicators for them to be highly engaged in their tasks while diligently executing their duties and responsibilities to satisfy their customers’ needs.
A recent research by Ernst & Young on customers experience in the financial sector in Kenya indicated that customers have the most problems when dealing with their banks compared to their global peers. The report further points out that ‘More than ever, banks are under pressure to not only retain their customers, but to also grow their customer base. While 60 per cent of survey respondents did not have definite plans to open or close accounts in the next year, this should not be interpreted as loyalty’ said the report. (Daily Nation, March 20th 2014).
Any organization, large or small in all sectors, should embrace effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM). In today’s business environment, there is increased competition ideally in all sectors and industries not only to win customer but to retain them. With the shift in customer retention strategies, an organization should ensure that customers are satisfied with the past performance and be confident that the organization will meet their future requirements.
Customer Relationship Management refers to the management of all interactions with the customer that an enterprise indulges in. Its focus is on managing and optimizing the entire customer life cycle. The main objective and benefit of good CRM is to increase the customer base by acquiring new customers and effectively serving the needs of the existing ones.
Customer satisfaction is key in delivering quality customer service. A customer experience will make them loyal to their service provider with customer satisfaction requiring that an organization meets the customer’s expectations fully and ensure the customer is happy. According to (Sugandhi 2008), customer satisfaction is the customer’s perception that a vendor has met his expectations fully, efficiently and promptly.
Worth noting, organizations should know that customer satisfaction increases their business profitability by increasing its realization. This further helps in securing premium on its products.
Measuring customer satisfaction is essential in today’s globalized economy and competitive business field. By measuring its customer satisfaction, an organization will be able to judge the effectiveness of its business plan and provide information on how customer centric it is. A satisfied customer will be an organization’s marketing arm. Due to human psychology, an unsatisfied customer is more likely to speak often on the subject than a satisfied customer. A single unsatisfied customer could undo the effect of three satisfied customers.
Anyone who thinks customers aren’t important should try doing without them for a week.
Due to technological advancement, we are living in historic times. Fierce and increased competition is the order of the day. Customers on the other hand are so informed and much more demanding. In order to stay ahead of the competition, organizations should understand the emerging trends that can help them improve their customer experience, customer retention, loyalty or acquisition.
To win and retain customers, first, as an organization you need to understand and Know Your Customer (KYC). There is need to understand what motivates your customer at a deep psychological level. For instance, strive to know their perception about the organization, if your services are worth the value of their money and whether the customer is comfortable and satisfied with your products or services.
Feedback and effective planned communication is another great magic to winning and retaining your customers. Secondly, every organization that is involved in customer experience should lay down a planned feedback mechanism and complaints management that is not haphazard. Through this channel, an organization will have information, ideas and suggestions on how to improve their services to suit their customers’ needs. The content, quality and time taken to respond to the customer is what determines the quality of feedback.
In any given organizations, be it financial institutions, manufacturers, institutions of learning, health care providers, telecommunication and the likes, customer complaint is a focused feedback on what is wrong with the organization, its products and services or the employees. This also provides feedback on the weakness in the organization’s processes. If proper remedial action is taken in time, it reduces repetition of similar mistakes or system failure and has positive effect on the reduction in complaints and increase in benefits to the client and enhances customer satisfaction.
Well motivated and trained employees will always ensure customers get the best services but if an employee is not happy, there is no way a customer will be happy. Thirdly, it is necessary that an organization develops a culture of employee with good and positive response by frequently training them or creating appropriate atmosphere for it. All employees in an organization should embrace patience and should be cool especially when handling difficult customers.
In every business setting, a customer is the king, and always considered to be right thus employees should have the attribute of being the solution finder rather than problem creator. Quick and positive thinking is also a vital attribute when dealing with customers.
Finally, we are living in the digital age and we all know the massive impact and potential of social media in relation to customer experience. Organizations that want to excel in provision of quality customer service should not just toy with this new channel. Technology has closed the wider gap between an organization and its customers. To win your customers’ confidence, ensure your website is always up to date and the information relevant to their needs. The use of Twitter as a customer’s stream of information and feedback is also vital.
Technology is good and has greatly impacted our lives positively but it comes with its hitches in relation to provision of quality service to customers. There is thus an urgent need for organizations offering services through mediated or electronic devices to always communicate to their customers appropriately, should they experience break down, system failure or maintenance processes. This will increase customer confidence as customers always look for recognition and acknowledgement.