For sometime now, customer service is the talk of town and almost everyone has something to say about it. As a result most of the big organisations are offering customer care oriented trainings to their front line staff.
Customers now use different fora including social media networks to complain. And the good thing about the awareness campaign is that many organisations; both public and private have understood that they have no option than to improve their services.
All these have resulted in a slight improvements but the greatest ingredient slowing our progress is definitely the lack of consistency.
When this new restaurant opened two years ago, it was our (I and my friends) best hangout. Its staff members were neatly dressed and knowledgeable about the menu, the food that was served was hot and there was always a supervisor available at anytime.
But when we went there last time; the place seemed to have lost its soul as the passion and enthusiasm of the first days have simply vanished. What a disappointment!
I am often amazed at the energy and passion most people put in starting a business or a project. Some start their year with many resolutions they are not able to fulfil. Why? Simply because at a certain time, they lack the motivation, drive, passion, energy to continue each single day.
No matter who you are or what kind of business you are in, consistency is a key principle that will help you succeed. It is true that being consistent for a long period requires more than just a desire.
For a magazine, for instance, remaining consistent at each single issue is a real challenge. You’ve got to fight with yourselves to stick to your standards, quality, deadline and deliverables because of the image you want to build your brand.
But like many businesses, you rely on many external factors; on the dedication of reliable staff, on the economy of the country etc.
Setting up standards of operations (SOPs) and maintaining them are some of the minimum requirements if one wants to grow. In any business, procedures and standards of operation set the tone as they offer a certain level of conformity, uniformity, no matter the staff, the day, the customer, the weather, personal mood etc.
You therefore need to have a written document with details of all relevant steps and procedures for your staff, especially for the new ones. If your turnaround time for serving clients is five minutes for instance, make sure this standard is understood and adhered to by all employees. Paul should not serve customers in two minutes whereas Peter takes seven minutes for the same operation.
Setting up standards of operations is important to the survival of any business but maintaining them is capital. Being consistent will imply that we refuse mediocrity or average quality.
If you are a business owner and invest money in opening up a shop, learn to stick to the same level of service as at the beginning. Refuse complacency. 8:00am is not the same as 8.10 am for opening up your shop if 8:00am is what you promised your customers at the beginning.
Put in place a mechanism that monitors the adherence and respect of the standards by all staff because, obviously, procedures that have no supervision die off quickly.
The recipe for improving service delivery in Rwanda lies in making sure there are mechanisms that monitor the new rules and regulations that are put in place.
Procedures, systems, processes can only yield results when they are supervised and monitored. If it is decided that all letters arriving in a ministry or government institution should be responded to, it is important someone checks once in a while if this rule is respected. Mystery shopping is a great way of knowing how employees respect standards.
Success no matter the area is a result of maintaining consistent performance. You need 3 important ingredients: 1) Have Passion, 2) Develop a goal and 3) Work hard every day to remain consistent in everything you do. If one of those steps is missing, success will unfortunately be hampered.
Remember consistency will help you boost yourself, your brand and your business. Make sure your employees are engaged and empowered as they play a huge part in creating your brand consistency.
The Author is a Customer Service Consultant and The Publisher of The Service Mag