Welcome to #InspireAfricaProject! Most businesses in our clime do not go beyond the start-up level because the owners don’t pay attention to customer service management, which is the most important aspect of the business. Do you know how your staff treats your customers? Why is it that most customers don’t come back after patronizing you the first time?
Like I have always said, our obsession with “who is after us” is one of the reasons why people don’t go beyond certain level. In this part of the world, we blame the devil and his agents for what requires creative thinking and simple analysis. In fact, some of us have turned prophets and seers into our business consultants.
I believe in hearing from God from the depth of my heart, but I also believe in applying time-tested principles that originated from scriptures. From my years of consulting for organizations, I can tell you categorically that some of us are our own enemies.
A department store executive was addressing a conference of merchandise managers. She said that, “I may be little old-fashioned, but I belong to the school that believes the best way to get customers to come back is to give them friendly, courteous service. One day I was walking through a store when I overheard a salesperson arguing with a customer. The customer left in quite a huff.
Afterwards, the salesperson said to another, “I’m not going to let a $1.98 customer take up all my time and make me take the store apart trying to find what he wants. He’s simply not worth it.” “I walked away,” the executive continued, “but I couldn’t get that remark out of my mind. It is pretty serious, I thought, when our salespeople think of customers as being in the $1.98 category.
I decided right then that this concept must be changed. When I got back to my office, I called our research director and asked him to find out how much the average customer spent in our store last year. The figure he came up with surprised even me. According to our research director’s careful calculation, the typical customer spent $362 in our establishment.
The next thing I did was to call a meeting of all supervisory personnel and explain the incident to them. Then I showed them what a customer is really worth. Once I got these people to see that a customer is not to be valued on a single sale but rather on an annual basis, customer service definitely improved.”
The point made by that lady applies to any kind of business. It’s repeat purchase that makes the profit. Often, there’s no profit at all on the first several sales. Look at the future patronage of the customer, not just what they buy today. Putting a big value on customers is what converts them into big, regular patrons. Attaching little value to customers sends them elsewhere.
David J. Schwartz shared the following experience about customer service management. “A student related why he would never again eat in a certain cafeteria. “I went for lunch one day,” the student began, “I decided to try a new cafeteria that had just opened a couple of weeks before. Nickels and dimes are pretty important to me right now, so I watch what I buy pretty closely.
Walking past the meat section I saw some turkey and dressing that looked pretty good, and it was plainly marked 39 cents. When I got to the cash register, the checker looked at my tray and said, 1.09 cents. I politely asked her to check it again because my tally was 99 cents. After giving me a mean glare, she recounted. The difference turned out to be the turkey. She had charged me 49 cents instead of 39 cents. Then I called her attention to the sign, which read 39 cents.
This really set her off! ‘I don’t care what that sign says. It’s supposed to be 49 cents. See. Here is my list for today. Somebody back there made a mistake. You’ll have to pay the 49 cents.’ Then I tried to explain to her the only reason I selected the turkey was because it was 39 cents. If it had been marked 49 cents I’d have taken something else.
To this, her answer was, ‘You’ll just have to pay the 49 cents.’ I did, because I didn’t want to stand there and create a scene. But I decided on the spot that I would never eat there again. I spend about $250 a year for lunches, and you can be sure they’ll not get one penny of it.” One customer was lost forever because of an untrained and cantankerous staff who had no respect for customers!
On several occasions I have asked business owners why they should invest a huge amount of money in a business, only to employ people that would close the business for them. One of the most important areas of your business is customer service management. If you fail in this particular area, you have failed before you even started.
There is no amount of money you spend in training your staff, especially salespeople that is in vain. If that cantankerous staff was thoroughly trained on how to treat customers, she wouldn’t have sent a customer that was poised to repeat patronage away.
I love what I saw at a restaurant few days ago. I discovered that supervisors monitor how their staff serve customers. I saw the supervisors passing instructions, begging the customers to have a little patience, and even joined in serving them. I said to myself, no wonder this restaurant is usually busy from morning till they close.
Dear friend, employ the best staff in town. Invite our organization to train them. In fact, nobody should work for you until you train the person. The person must understand your values, culture, vision, and what you expect from them. Dr. Mike Murdock usually record videos for his staff. He would say everything he expects them to do, give them the video to watch over and over again, before he can even employ them.
An unknown writer said that, “Customers may forget what you said but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” Blaise Pascal opined, “Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much.” Chinese Proverb stated that, “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.” Jeff Bezos puts it this way, “We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better.” Dear friend, the ball is now in your court. Wisdom is profitable to direct!
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