Thursday, January 6, 2011

Customer Service or Disservice?

I have been trying to obtain a service from a certain service provider. I should add that the service is not free, no, I will be expected to be making payment for this service. I seem to be getting nowhere and just have to VENT!

Trying to get a hold of this company on phone has proved to be rocket science, what’s worse is that majority of the time, when you do get through you are on hold for so long that the line actually gets disconnected. While you are on hold you discover that the company is likely to be receiving numerous calls from other customers/consumers because the advise you get from the recorded message is to hold on because all the agents/customer service representatives are busy.

Ok so contacting them on phone is proving too complicated, so what is the next best option, an e-mail right? Wrong! E-mails go unresponded to 99% of the time.

The irony is that I have contacted several ‘individuals’ and all seem to be just as incapable of providing information or responding to queries. How is that? How can 100% of the people I have contacted be just as unhelpful as the first? Does the problem lie then with the people employed or the systems?

If companies have performance reviews of their staff, then the sales and customer service should be obliged to respond to queries and offer assistance to potential customers in timely and effective manner. That really is the main duty they were employed to provide. An alarmingly high number of employees I have encountered in Kenyan companies seem content to do the absolute, bare minimum and do not seem too bothered about ensuring that the customer gets the best possible experience from the company. In an ideal world (also known as a company with good Human Resource polices and strategies) the employees have a sense of belonging to the company so that they can actually effectively represent the company.

I hear there is a reality show known as ‘Undercover Boss’ where the owner or senior executive of a company works undercover within the same company to see how it is ran and of course identify the good employees and expose the ones causing more harm then good. I would prescribe this for a number of companies. Some customers have found a way of ensuring senior managers are aware of the workings of junior Cc'ing senior managers in e-mail correspondence. This often does the trick but it is a sign of poor management when the customer is forced to take it upon his/herself to ensure the manager is clued in to what is going on.

If management can't go ‘undercover’ to determine the rotten apple(s), then they may consider investing in their staff as they truly are ‘human RESOURCE’ and taking them for customer service classes with the aim of changing their attitude and inculcate in them customer oriented culture. Management should also put in place proper checks and balances to ensure that their staff is effective. This includes; performance appraisals, service delivery standards and benchmarks; customer service monitoring systems with the overall aim of providing great, timely and efficient customer service.

Customer service is a key determinant of one’s choice of company, service provider or product in a competitive market, so companies should urgently start giving this aspect of their businesses the attention it deserves.


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