Lillian Gaitho’s reflections on this year’s ‘Customer Service Week’

Celebrating Customer Service Week; 5 Ways Corporates Can Become ‘Service Champions

A customer or your clientele base no doubt forms the core of your business; be it in the service or goods market, the experience that you offer your customers can either make or break your business. Celebrated every year since the pioneer events in 1980s, the Customer Service week seeks to bring to attention the role of the team that works to ensure that customers have a good memory beyond the tagged commodity; therefore gaining the customer as a brand ambassador and great referral partner. A negative experience will no doubt bring forth the extreme opposite to this. This year’s Customer Service Week theme ‘Service Champions’ seeks to recognize that excellent service can only be achieved through the pooled effort by a team of professionals. Being in the central service industry that is hotel sector, Jumia Travel seeks to expound features of a great Customer Service personnel and ways in which corporates can improve their personnel.

Product Knowledge

It’s vital that you understand and grow expertise of what you are selling and who you are selling it to before you take up the role of serving your clientele. The culture of single product knowledge; where a customer service personnel only seems to understand a single product, gives one liners for every question asked and has to refer customers to other departments or colleagues needs to be curbed. Anyone reporting at a service desk or calling one has the immediate need for information, make it insightful.

Build a Memorable Experience

In the travel business especially, it’s important for customer service personnel to think beyond allocating rooms and selling beds; to creating a personal experience that the guest will want to re-live as well as share with others. This goes beyond merely answering duty calls to investing and building a likeable and pleasant personality, taking proactive steps to challenges as opposed to reacting and developing easy to interact with interface that does not inconvenience your customer. Other areas to pay keen attention to is improving customers welfare, being attentive, going the extra step to make the (guest’s) stay as comfortable as possible and throwing in a few incentives such as surprise room upgrades, free meals, child care etc.

Stay Visible and Available

Whether during check in or check out, no guest wants to get stranded at the reception while they await to be served. For hotels and other accommodation properties, always make sure the front desk is manned as long as you are marked open for business. On the other hand, if you are serving as an agent or with an online booking platform such as Jumia Travel, Expedia, etc; ensure that your line is open and audible. Keep an eye on any live chat and pay attention to your incoming mail. However, it’s also important to keep clear boundaries and avoid situations where customers feel overwhelmed, or accorded an overload of attention; do not take up their private or personal space.

Give Undivided Attention While Serving

As indicated in this article the customer should take center stage of your operations. Unfortunately, we’ve all been served by a member seemingly more interested in showcasing his or her dovetailing skills than getting our request accomplished. However busy, do not fall into the temptation of speaking to the customer while holding another on the line and scrolling your inbox at the same time. Showering individuals with undivided attention not only shows respect but also sends a subtle message of “available and happy to serve you”. This is a need for human beings; customers who are accorded attention and handled with respect will definitely make a comeback, as well as put in a good word to other potential customers in their circles.

Speed is of Essence

When a customer forwards a query at any juncture of the purchase process, it is because they are trying to make up their mind on your product. Delayed information or putting customers on hold can be quite frustrating. Although it’s completely understandable that you will not have all answers on your fingertips, the way you communicate this information makes a major difference. Remember your downtime, broken systems and power blackouts have nothing to do with your client, as obnoxious as it may seem; all a customer wants is to be served. Therefore, in terms of humanly impossible mishaps, take responsibility, apologize and promise to rectify and revert as soon as is practically possible. Keep the customer reassured and if you can, exceed their expectations by offering some incentive to make up for their loss or earlier disappointment.