Customer service is the cornerstone of a solid, thriving business. It costs more than five times to get a new customer than to maintain the satisfaction and loyalty of an existing customer. Companies struggle to cut costs without realising that customer attrition might be the single largest cost they have.
Keeping customers happy has the same bottom line effect as cutting costs. Increase your customer retention by 5%, and you could increase your profits 25%. But you won’t get there by providing “average” service.
The last time I entered a furnishing company down town around UTC, I had the impression that I was disturbing the lady. She was lying on one of the couches, chatting on her phone and did not even offer me a glance.
After 3 minutes looking around, I walked out and she never noticed my departure. I asked myself if this lady knew why she was there. Do you think she makes the link between the customer and her salary at the end of the month?
I usually buy tomatoes at the Kimironko market and have been very impressed by Janet who will always welcome me with a big smile to show she is pleased to see me. And guess what? I buy my tomatoes only from her.
What a difference a smile makes in helping customers feel welcome. And what a striking contradiction it is when someone asks, “Can I help you?” while their expression says, “Go away, you’re a nuisance” or better still “why didn’t you go to the next shop?”
Every shop owner and every front line staff should know the Chinese proverb that says “a man who cannot smile should not open a shop”.
To many organisations however customer service is one of the most challenging and neglected areas of management. For customers, the quality of customer service determines whether to buy, and particularly whether to remain a customer. The customer has to feel good about doing business with you and happy enough to pass positive feedback to others.
Think for a moment how you yourself behave as a customer on an occasion when poor customer service or an unhappy exchange with a sales person has driven you to leave, even if the quality and value of the product or service itself is broadly satisfactory.
Considering the Vision 2020 of Rwanda, it is important that people from all areas of service understand the impact of customer service on the global image of this great country.
And this should start from airline companies, the immigration service, the hotels and restaurants etc down to taxi drivers, the hair saloon, the internet café, souvenir shops, filling stations and all public services.
Rwanda business owners looking to thrive should invest in customer service training by a professional trainer who will have the methodology to pass on the message.