I have tried my utmost best in the last one month or so to ignore the falling down of Nigeria in the customer service area of field but I can no longer hold back. I am at my wits end as to how we can re-build our nation in the face of many failures and leading the pack is many levels of customer service failure. It is amazing to find that in global businesses today, organisations are frontloading customer service and big corporate organisations understand this. Today, most top level airlines have customer service officers on board their international flights.
Then I wonder if we are paying lip service to our intention to become global brands. About four weeks ago I spoke to a couple of young entrepreneurs on the topic, building a global business and the mainstay of my paper was on customer service and brand promotion.
How do you promote a brand when even the packaging of the product is shoddy and fairly disgraceful? How do we hope to get customers interested when our product line is uninterested in what our customer thinks? Our attitude back home will never support product trans-border crossing. All the way to Ghana people have better customer service than we have and have in a lot of cases better packaging. This is not to obliterate my countrymen old and young who have good packaging and good customer service. But the issue is we are generally comatose about customer service when last did you try to get the attention of a local airline on the phone.
Someone keeps you waiting, finally answers after twenty minutes and promises to return to you. They often never do. What about gum chewing receptionists looking bored or if they are women trying to proposition the client. What about hospitals where the doctor looks like you are interrupting his/her life and finally hotels, eateries, I can go on and on. Our businesses are not training their staff so when a customer is upset, they do not have an answer. In all instances in the last one week, all I have got for customer service failure is sorry, for giving me a wrong delivery at home, getting a stained blouse from my laundrette and a two-day delay on my checked in luggage from an airline.
There was no customer service relief like okay, can we now send the right order for food, can we offer you a complimentary meal for our mistake, what can we do to make it better. We will fly you half price next time you fly with us. No such thing occurs. You meet a staff who thinks he is doing you a favour after messing you up, then they even have the right to want to be angry. Because I teach customer service, I am befuddled by the fact that my nation is sliding backwards in hospitality, in the restaurant business and even in entertainment.
The last time I went to watch a famous comedian who came in from Lagos, he was two hours late and when he came on stage, he was self-entitled with no apologies. I had to send in a note to say, Abuja will never ever come out to watch him again if he does not apologise and that’s when he did. Totally crazy. When you enter a shop, the attendants are waiting for you to greet them. I don’t get it.
The customer service collection
Here are five books I believe can speak to these issues.
1) The big book of Customer Service Training games by Peggy Carlaw and Vasudha Denning. I have chosen this book specifically because we like to hire cheap and provide no capacity for our staff whatsoever. Sometimes even the dressing of your staff can put the customer off. Investing in customer service training for your staff is value. This book uses games and role play to get your staff learning about customer service in a fun way through role play debates and charade.
2) Service Failure, the real reasons employees struggle with customer service and what you can do about it by Jeff Toister. This book deals with why support teams fail and how you can avoid a similar fate. It is important to note that if your customers are constantly complaining, then you have not invested in enough training or even information to keep your staff abreast. Do they have the tools for their assignment?
3) Customer Experience 3.0. High profit strategies in the age of techno service by John Goodman. This book educates you on how you can leverage on new modern technology to enhance your customer’s customer service experience and how to stay current with their customer service needs using technology. It also helps you to develop and implement a good customer service strategy.
4) Chief Customer Officer 2.0. How to build your customer service driven growth engine. By Jeanne Bliss. This is about how to launch a proven framework through the author’s five competency model. This book is a crash course for leaders looking to enhance their overall company’s customer experience.
5) Mind-set, the new psychology of success by Carol Dweck. How can we learn to fulfil our potential? In the most difficult support leader scenarios as this book opines, you may run out of fuel. How do you re-strategize? If you have a fixed mind-set of one that is fixed on success and ego this might keep you from reaching your goals. But if you have a growth mind-set then you must encourage yourself to take challenges on and embrace them with zeal and enthusiasm while carrying your staff along.