AUGUST 26, 2014 By Gabriel Benjamin
Managing customer experience can be a challenge especially with the Ebola Virus Disease Out-break, more so as customers have diverse needs that can often be at different ends of the same range.
The result of inappropriate handling of customer complaints at this critical time of emergency can lead to frustration of the customers and may lead to the loss of services to other competitors. Moreover, complaints from customers may be inevitable whether it is a service provider or a product manufacturing company.
The key to keeping customers happy especially at this ‘trying time’ is to handle their every complaint in the right way.
Customer complaints occur because the customer may not have a clear understanding of the facts presented to them. On the other hand, it may be that the customer does not see benefits in the proposal or their expectations were not included in an offer.
In Sierra Leone, as a result of the Ebola Virus Disease out-break and subsequent increased desire for convenient services, customer complaints have escalated; however, business owners and organizations are trying their best to meet these expectations.
In the communication sector, research have shown that over 70 per cent of customers rated very low the quality of service they get from the customer’s care line, the Banking Industry, National Power Authority, GUMA Water Valley to mention but a few are also not exempted. Customer satisfactions have been sacrificed on the altar of profit making.
To retain customers’ patronage despite the Ebola Virus Disease Out-break, here are few tips to meeting their needs.
Observe your business objectively
Having an outsider’s point of view of the business will give a better understanding of the customer’s experience. The busy schedule of the business managers may not allow them to give adequate focus on what the customers are going through.
Until managers view the issue from the perspective of the customers, they cannot have a complete picture of the reason for the complaint. And this can be achieved by taking time out, each day by observing of all transactions, rather than an active participant
Observing what customers do and what they talk about as they are being attended to may give managers a few ideas of how to make the business more attractive and the customers satisfy.
In addition, listening to the interactions between customers and staff, listening to what customers are saying about the business in general, and chatting with the suppliers that make deliveries, can assist in gathering information that can be used to improve the business’s overall level of customer service.
Moreover, if the busy schedule of the manager makes it difficult for him to observe, an observer can be recruited to carry out the investigation.
Solve the problem
Training of customer care representatives and ensuring that they use the knowledge acquired can restore smiles to the face of customers, this will help to minimize complaints, of unruly staff and dissatisfaction with services rendered.
Avoiding confrontation with customers, calmly listening to their complaints, tendering apologies where necessary can turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
To this end, business owners should bear in mind that if their customers are not satisfied with the solutions proffered, they can easily move to their competitors.
Pride should not be allowed to override the desire to render excellent services to customers.
Identify what your customers expect
To key into what delights customers, professionals say managers should keep an open mind and communicate with their employees, customers, friends and acquaintances in order to discover the satisfaction they desire.
What do your customers expect when you approach them for a business deal?
They say once business managers are able to achieve this, they can begin to work on ensuring that they meet these expectations and, hopefully, exceed them. The reality is that unhappy customers rarely take the time to complain about a problem. Instead, they simply will not come back, that is why it is important to identify any problem before you lose them.
According to experts, feedback from customers help in differentiating what is being delivered and what they want and if there are any problems brewing. Every business should encourage its customers to give their opinions on their experience, experts’ say.
Change your business environment
Dull, dirty and unfriendly business environment can be a turn off for customers especially with the Ebola Virus Disease out-break. Therefore, to make any offer more appealing to customers, business environment should be kept very clean; easily accessible by making sign posts unique and attractive so that customers can pick it out from a distance. Put your street address in a clear and prominent position at the front of the business.
The lighting inside the building and the surroundings should be adequate to assure them of safety. Furthermore, a big smile and a friendly welcome will help to put customers at ease.