Wednesday, 9 September 2015

THE WORKPLACE CENTRE UNDERSCORES THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE DELIVERY CULTURE

Tectono Business Review believes that most successful global brands are built on a track record of excellent service delivery culture. It is really a truism but this is not the case in Nigeria where, despite an intimidating customer base of about 170 million, most companies and businesses have not been able to make their products and services irresistible.

The judgment of brand analysts and managers is that Nigerian entrepreneurs, despite being acknowledged globally for their tenacity and can do spirit, have not been able to ride on the platform of a robust service delivery culture to build brand equity. This development was confirmed by a recent Africa’s Top 50 Companies published by African Business Report, in which only seven Nigerian companies made the list. The survey, which jolted not a few business owners, brand experts and stakeholders, added that many local brands failed in according their customers the required excellent service delivery. The belief is that when compared to some businesses that invest immensely in excellent customer service strategies, Nigerian businesses still have a long way to go. The care-free attitude of most brand managers and chief executives is said to be largely responsible for the poor level of patronage of local brands.

But the situation appears set for a reversal. The Workplace Centre Limited (TWPC), a human resource and information technology consultancy firm, has concluded arrangements to engage managers, supervisors and client interfacing executives on how to make strategic decisions to transform their organisations’ customer relationship management and to emotionally connect and add value to every interaction. Specifically, the firm is set to host business managers, chief executives and social entrepreneurs to its customer service training scheduled for the 24th of this month, in Lagos.

The training is aimed at providing insights into consistent service delivery strategies that will revolutionise customer service culture in Nigeria. According to its organisers, the forum tagged: ‘The Customer Amazement Revolution Master Class’ will expose participants to current trends in customer service relations, drawing from the wealth of experience of speakers, including Shep Hyken, a customer service expert and the award winning author of books, such as The Amazement Revolution; Benjamin  Ola Akande, the 21st president of Westminster College, Missouri, United States; and the immediate past Dean, George Herbert Walker School of Business and Technology, Webster University, among others.

To meet the increasing demand for quality customer service, co-founder and Managing Partner, TWPC, Mrs. Bola Adeniyi-Taiwo, urged business owners, managers and social entrepreneurs to join hands with her company, which offers unparalleled quality services in its areas of expertise, to promote the much-needed amazement revolution in customer service delivery. She expressed optimism that if stakeholders in Nigeria heed the call for a consistent amazing customer service, more consumers of goods and services within and outside the country would increase their demand for products, which would in turn reduce unemployment in the country. This, she noted, will help the nation gain global competitive advantage.

Mrs. Adeniyi-Taiwo, who emphasised that TWPC is guided by strong values and high ethical standards, said the company’s mission is to provide innovative solutions and excellent services that maximise client’s return on investment. According to her, the best way to do that is not to view customer service as a cost, but as an investment in building future and long lasting relationships that would create customer evangelists. Quoting Shep Hyken, she said: ‘Hitherto, one unhappy customer would tell 12 people about his experience. Now, one customer may have 500 Twitter followers to spread the message to.”

For Mr. Tobi Oni, a stakeholder, the theme of the forum is apt and timely. According to him, there is no better time for such a thought-provoking event that is designed to change the face of service delivery in Nigeria and Africa at large. He noted that apart from several economic challenges, thousands of Nigerian businesses have collapsed due to the inability of their owners to manage stardom by adopting amazing customer service culture that can give their customers reasons to come back.

He said: “I expect owners of dead and living companies to attend the TWPC training and specifically learn from the masters (Hyken and Akande among others). We should start looking forward to practicing the much needed consistent service delivery system.”

Mr. Oni is right. Not a few industry experts and stakeholders agree that the importance of quality customer service training cannot be overemphasized for businesses regardless of their sizes, services or market focus. As Mrs. Adeniyi-Taiwo pointed out, the most successful companies take customer-service farther by applying it directly to their employees. When a service or sales team regards and treats one another with the same consideration and respect that they would offer the customer, amazing team spirit is created and the overall work dynamic of the establishment is improved.

She, however, added that there are certain skills, tools and priorities that are essential to the growth and development of amazing customer service.

She said: “We must have the technical knowledge, financial and material resources as well as the required infrastructure and up to date technology to attend proactively to our customer’s needs. The benefits that excellent customer care skills provide to every business are endless. Not only can it make the difference between an immediate sale or lack, thereof, it can also make or break a potential long term client relationship”

The TWPC Managing Partner further stated that all things being equal, almost everyone will choose the company that recognises and meets their needs consistently over the one that does not. She said when dealing with quality customer service, the most immediate and important factor is establishing an orientation of respect, which is one element that is immediately felt by the consumer.

She said: “This alone can lead a hesitant customer to make an instant purchase or cause them to walk right out of the door. After the respectful attitude is established, then it is vital to anticipate and very importantly focus on the customers’ needs. This is when active listening skills are essential.”

Indeed, such admonishment could not be timelier. At the moment, Nigeria is largely perceived as a nation where businesses/factories are commissioned daily, without adequate plans to relate the sustainability of the business to customer relationship management. Nigeria and Africa consume mostly imported products and always rate their service delivery higher. This, according to customer service experts, hinders Africa’s quest for cultivating unparalleled quality of its service delivery.

An erstwhile manager with one of the defunct local fast food outfit, Gbenga Osho, said: “We are basically a consuming nation; we applaud service delivery of foreign brands and multinationals because we have failed in ours. We praise others for doing what we can do to protect and secure the future of our brands. I believe several local brands can compete internationally if only the correct measures are put in place.”

Interestingly, these are issues that will engage the minds of participants and resource persons at the training.  Already, world’s number one customer service guru, Shep Hyken, has given his words that ‘The Customer Amazement Revolution Masterclass’ would engender more competition among businesses within the same segment leading to positive change in the perception of service delivery in Nigeria.

Founded in February 2013, TWPC is a state-of-the-art skills development centre that provides employability and entrepreneurial skills development as well as human resources and ICT services to its clients.