The essence of customer service

Quality customer service is a prerequisite for any business to grow. / Photo: Net.

‘The customer is always right’. The phrase is an ideal that many businesses try to adhere to as their customer service policy. It means that if the customer is unhappy about a product, the business will try to fix the problem and ensure the customer happy.

The importance of effective and high quality customer service above everything else can’t be emphasised enough. It is a prerequisite for any business to grow. In Rwanda, many companies have found themselves in the spotlight because of poor customer service.


Being Customer Service Week, Justine Racheal, a business leadership coach and the CEO of Mentor Africa, shares with Joan Mbabazi the essence of customer service.


What is your take on general customer service in Rwanda?


Customer service is still deficient, not only in Rwanda but globally. But as a practitioner in this domain, I have noticed that people are starting to adapt. The problem is that many people don’t know that customer care is bad because they lack the necessary knowledge and skills. 

What are some of the necessities of excellent customer service?

One has to have the ability to transform the personality of the buyer or customer, through the ability to blend feelings and emotions of the customers because customers approach sellers with more than the need for the product.

Business owners and employees have to master the art of looking at every customer that walks into the shop, restaurant, supermarket, hotel, and study their mood and attitude. But also be ready to receive them in and care to know the kind of service they wish to have.

Employers and business owners need to take precaution while employing people. They should place them where they fit properly, customers’ needs have to be predicted in whatever domain or service one offers. I urge employees to do more market research on what is trending to serve people well.

What else is necessary to pull clients?

It is necessary to apologise. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s about how you own up to them — but do not keep on with the same wrongs because repeated apology becomes a habit and people stop listening. Employers and business managers have to be nice to their employees because they are the ones that meet the customers.

The picture they give will depend on how they are treated. I call upon business leaders to be able to move from their positions, and communicate with their employees and know how they are doing. It’s sad that some employers can take years without knowing the names of their workers. If the employees are not cared for, they won’t have the heart to care for customers.

What skills are required for customer service? 

Some things come from within, and others are learned over time. For instance, when it comes to soft skills, it’s different. One can’t be trained to learn how to smile, speak with empathy, and patience with clients in a day. It is important to coach people, for example, sit with them and find the knowledge gap they have, hence offering the training that is appropriate for them. People have to be given time to grow in these skills. But monitoring and assessing them is key. As a trainer in customer service, take three months and even identify champions within the group.

What are some of the risks of poor customer service?

Unfortunately, most businesses or companies don’t consider customer care as a vital tool for growth, income generation or company performance. While a business person endeavours to invest a lot of money in marketing, buying marketing merchandise, putting out adverts on TVs and radios, clients just disappear.

This will result in wasting resources while investing in areas that won’t be necessary if there is poor customer care, perhaps customers may also lose trust in the business.

Why do we have poor customer service in the first place?

Research shows that customers are responsible for the poor customer service that is rendered to them because they don’t complain. Imagine walking into a restaurant, and ordering for food but it takes like two hours to be served, and then you keep on going back to the same restaurant?

All in all, anyone included in any business should have the desire to learn. But an environment that doesn’t train its workers can’t allow them to grow. A good brand opens doors to greater opportunities.

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