Customer service refers to whatever else a business can offer to its customers, in addition to the core product, in order to enhance the level of satisfaction of the customer or recipient. It means all features, acts, and information that augment the customer’s ability to realize the potential value of a core product or service. A core service or product is one that is offered for sale in its own right and not as an extra or accompaniment of some other product or service.
Customer service can be offered at any point in time depending on the scenarios. It may occur before, during or after the sales transaction.
The growing importance of customer service in business and non-business organizations worldwide is traceable to the fact that it is the major distinguishing factor between similar businesses. If two companies offering the same range of goods are likely to differ significantly in the range and quality of services they offer. It is for this reason that customer service constitutes the edge or advantage that one firm has over another.
In order to deliver proper, the company should invest in measures for ensuring customer satisfaction.
Such measures should include:
Proper training of service persons in all aspects of the company’s operations;
Policies, rules, and regulations aimed at guiding employee behavior towards offering quality service to customers.
- A reward system for encouraging employees who excel in serving the customer.
- A complaints management system which encourages aggrieved customers to complain and initiate prompt actions to redress those complaints promptly.
- Supervisory machinery for supervising the prevention of errors.
- A control appellate system for obtaining feedback about the effectiveness or otherwise of the service system and for detecting and correcting errors.
The top management of every business must be committed to focusing on and satisfying the customer and should serve a model for other employees to follow. This is a requirement for developing customer focus.
To build wonderful customers relationships that last, these six steps are to be followed:
- Retaining existing customers by building good relationships with them through accessibility accountability, commitment, enhancement, and positive regard. Targeting and gaining new customers who fit the profile of a loyal customer the profile can be obtained by studying and analyzing existing customers.
- Taking advantage of information technology to measure customer satisfaction and retention as a basis for improving customer service.
- Irrespective of what the firm does, there will be customers who are genuinely aggrieved. Their grievances may result from the out-of-stock situation of the company’s products, defective goods, and services, poor attention from service or sales personnel or other forms of poor service delivery. Customers may also feel that the firm has taken advantage of them and so forth. When customer dissatisfaction sets in, the firm should redress the situation and move in to compensate or to make atonement as necessary.
- The company must discover what customers value that is the product attributes and benefits they want, need and expect from the seller or manufacturer.
- Adopt strategies which involve focusing not on every customer or prospect out on profitable customers who will remain loyal.
- Employing, developing, encouraging and empowering employees who are able and willing to provide the quality of service that customers are demanding.
To adjust measures for redressing customer’s dissatisfaction and complaints, these suggestions below have to be followed:
- Adjustment policies should be liberal in favor of the customer. When in doubt, the customer should be given the benefit of the doubt.
- The settlement should be prompt as justice delayed is justice denied.
- The company should be firm in amending to chronic trouble-makers as may be warranted by the situation.
- The company should make it easy for aggressive customers to lay their complaints
- Adjustment personnel should be sympathetic, respectful and patient- the company should make concessions to deserving aggrieved customers in a way that does not make them fee; fraudulent.
- Adjustment staff should show interest in customer complaints, listen attentively and analyses the complaints so as to provide authentic solutions.
Implications of Smallness for Marketing
Although marketing theories, policies, principles, and tools are applicable to varying degrees in every business irrespective of size, there are certain characteristics of smallness which have practical marketing implications for the small business. Small-scale entrepreneurship is likely to be characterized by limited capital, limited specialist staff in the different functional areas and limited geographical coverage.
These characteristics will tend to have both positive and negative impacts on the company’s marketing system.
On the negative side, smallness implies:
- Size could also deny the firm of economies of scale.
- Limited investment in product research and development.
- Promotional activities machinery and equipment as well as training and development.
One positive impact of smallness implies:
- Another salutary effect of smallness on the firm’s marketing practice is in terms of closeness to the customer.
- The company will have only one or very limited number of brands in the market. It is, therefore, the case that each brand will receive adequate attention in the areas of product re-design and improvement, distribution, sales, and promotion.
- A third but related advantage of small size is quick turnaround or response time in dealings with customers. Since the firm is small in every respect, it is unlikely to be bogged down to bureaucracy. Smallness will also translate into ease of supervision of salespersons and other marketing staff.
- All company employees are likely to know most of the major customers by face and name. Each can be attended to personally. Therefore, the company will no doubt be familiar with the problems, needs, and expectations of each customer.
Suggestive Questions that can Help the Customer Service Activities
- Do service persons watch out for signals that something has gone amiss?
- Are service personnel attentive?
- Do service persons welcome inquiries, complaints suggestions?
- Do they act promptly on inquiries and complaints?
- There suggestion boxes?
- Do the service personnel apologize where something goes wrong?
- Do they deal satisfactorily with complaints?
- Do they explain delays? Do they give the necessary feedback?
- Is there room for a customer to appeal to a higher authority when she is not satisfied with the services or products offered?
- Do employees behave as if they care about the customer? Are they genuinely interested?
- Are the service persons ready to go the extra mile for the customer’s sake?
- Is the product offered of high quality? Does it meet customer specifications and expectations?
- Is the prospect/customer informed of the available products/service?
- Is it easy to obtain information about the company and its products? Are inquiries answered promptly and correctly?
- Is the customer welcome on arrival with a smile and open arms?
- Are the service people cheerful-looking and polite?
- Are they willing and able to help or serve the customer properly?
- The customer served promptly?
- Are our services free from errors?
- When there is service failure (that is when something goes wrong in the course of serving the customer), does the service personnel accept responsibility or does she blame the customer?
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