The customer’s perception is your reality

The customer’s perception is your reality

Customer service excellence has been a main determinant for success. It’s one of the key factors that gives competitive advantage to any business. Tonny Allesandra said, “Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.”
And Jerry Fritz echoed the same sentiments when he said “You’ll never have a product or price advantage again. They can be easily duplicated, but a strong customer service culture can’t be copied.” It’s very critical that your customers get the best service ever.

Every business should focus on good customer service if it has to succeed. Customer service is how you treat your customers, how you serve them, and how you deliver the product or service to them. At the end of the day the customer is the best person to define what good customer service is!
When you are servicing a customer your aim should be to meet the needs and expectations of your customers. So everything that an organisation is doing must be focused at pleasing its customers.

In any case the key stakeholder for every organisation is the customer. What we should realise is that customers are prepared to pay for excellent service. The surge in social media and globalisation of companies has meant that companies are facing a lot of good quality service demands from customers.

With social media, customers and potential customers can easily share both favourable opinions and criticism of an organisation’s service on forums, blogs, service review sites and social networking sites.  Every organisation should therefore strive to build a strong reputation for quality service as this is a key differentiator in competitive markets and does create the required competitive edge to leapfrog the competition.

As an organisation providing service to its customers if your service is poor customers will quickly look for alternatives. Excellent service is essential to satisfying your customers and retaining their loyalty so that they will continue to buy from your organisation in the future.

Excellent service is critical to the future viability of your organisation since it makes an important contribution to long-term revenue and profitability.
There are certain key factors that every organisation should address when providing services to its customers. Customers will be loyal once a company pays attention to these factors. The importance of each of these factors will differ with each organisation and so you need to put more focus on the ones that are very critical for your organisation.

You can determine what your customers want by carrying out a customer satisfaction survey. The factors you need to consider are reliability, responsiveness, assurance, empathy and tangibles. Customers value the reliability of a service provider. A customer expects you, the service provider to do what you said you’re going to do when you said you were going to do it. Customers do count on their providers.

Your organisation should be very responsive to the queries being raised by customers. You should respond quickly, promptly, rapidly, immediately, instantly to customers’ queries.  Taking a day to return a call or email or not responding at all will not work. Customers can’t take that. It’s important that customers feel service providers are responsive to their needs.

If a customer has to say your service is excellent he/she needs to get assurance of the service that you are providing. As a service provider you are expected to be the expert of the service you’re delivering.  It’s a given. So it’s important that you communicate your expertise and competence to customers so that they raise their confidence in you. In support of your competences you might have to display your qualifications or accolades that your organisation and employees have won.

When providing service customers want to feel that you care. They want empathy. How you deliver your service is as important as how you behave when you do it. Are you smiling or you are sulky.
It’s important for service providers to train employees on how to interact with customers when providing service. The customer should feel at home and well cared for.

Lastly it is very important that the appearance is good. Customers want employees who look presentable, have good appearance, nice uniforms, using clean equipment, and working in areas that look good. So when customers are assessing the quality of your service they will look at all these factors. Service providers need to work on all five.  It’s very important that you know what the customer expects of you. Most organisations fail to meet customer expectations because of a number of factors. Sometimes the organisation does not know what the customer wants.

In that case you might end up providing what the customer does not want. In certain instances you might have already formed your own idea about what the customer expects from your service.  If this idea is wrong from the start and does not correspond to what customers actually expect, there is a significant risk that the organisation will build this into its quality policy and operating rules and thereby provide the wrong service altogether.
Another challenge is when an organisation offers service that is different from what the consumer had expected. This could be a result of an employee implementing a policy wrongly. ]

Sam Walton said, “The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best but legendary.”
l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship.

He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.

For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: sjakarasi@gmail.com or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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