Customer Care: A Foreign Concept?

By Ory Olindo (@OryOlindo)

When dealing with clients, it is the little things that matter. Your product may be of a superior quality, but if the client is not comfortable with the business process, they may settle for a product with a lower quality but a more customer friendly interaction.

A customer’s experience while transacting with your business will determine if they will be a repeat customer, and if they will refer any business back to your company. Unfortunately, this aspect of the purchasing process is rarely put into consideration.

Business owners are more focused on how many sales they make, than they are on how the customer is treated.

I worked for a company that provided internet services to corporate and small businesses. As it is with technology,

sometimes it stops working, and for no apparent reason. At such times, the job of the receptionists and the customer care team was to ensure that all calls were answered, and irate customers soothed. This was extremely difficult but necessary to avoid the loss of customers to the competition. To date, that company is leading in the provision of internet services.

Too few business owners train their staff on customer service.

More often that I would like to count, I spoken with different receptionists on phone only to have them switch from English to slang on the first interaction. Have you had the odd experience of walking into a shop only to find the attendants huddled in one corner deep in conversation, giving you a cursory glance until you call out to them to serve you?

There is a thin line between being in a client’s face and ignoring them. There are those clients who want to look around first before they ask for assistance, and there are those who want to interact with someone from the moment they enter the shop. You can differentiate the two through their body language as they enter the shop … if you are paying attention.

Points at Which to Offer Customer Care

Initial Contact – Email, Phone, Reception

How long does it take you to respond to general and specific email enquiries? Is there someone who regularly checks your company’s general email address? On the phone, are clients received with a mouthful of a greeting or a curt hello? When they are being transferred to another department, are they informed, or do they suddenly find their ear filled with a voice recording? What does your reception look like? Are the chairs comfortable and the coffee table covered with recent magazines?

Feedback as You Transact

There are people who go quiet once they have been awarded a contract. The client has no idea what they are up to or if they are even working on the project. Any attempts to reach them prove to be futile. They only surface when they need more money, or when the project is complete. They do not give the client the opportunity to comment or provide feedback during the process. Depending on the business you do and the client’s preferences, you can provide updates as you go along. But if your client does not require constant feedback, make a point to touch base with them at regular intervals along the way.

Conclusion of The Project – After Sales Service

How willing are you to offer some free services to your clients after they have received your products? Can they come back for free maintenance within a specified period? Do you follow up with them to find out how they are enjoying your product, or not?

Some projects need to be handed over to the client on completion. This should be a straightforward affair, but it is not always so. Sometimes there are corrections required. How willing are you to make corrections upon request?

When dealing with clients, it is the little things that matter.

Your product may be of a superior quality, but if the client is not comfortable with business process, they may settle for a product with a lower quality but a more customer friendly interaction. Do you know how your clients feel about your business process? Ask them….

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