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Customer Experience

Why Companies continue to have poor service

The need to eliminate poor customer service is no longer news. Many organisations have this as a business objective but the reality is; they often fail to meet this objective because of 3 simple misconceptions.

Companies wrongly believe they are providing service excellence

While organisations think they have an 80% great service and 20% amelioration to do, the customers think they have 6% good service and 94% amelioration to do. Most organisations have a wrong perception of their Customer Experience level. To know what your customers think about you, start listening to the voice of the customer, through appropriate feedback systems.

Organizations don’t understand the significance of customer service

Many organisations have a very wrong perception of what customer Service is. Some think good service is having a customer service department and big customer service titles. Some organisations still use 1990 customer service skills to serve 2019 customers. Many still adore NPS as though it is the only customer experience metric, failing to understand that the customer life-cycle has 5 stages and each stage has its own metrics. You must rethink your customer service strategy and philosophy.


Organisations don’t know how to deliver consistent, high quality customer service on an on-going basis

Customer service is a culture. Not a one time show. It must be inscribed in the organisations strategic plan and must have a clear policy manual. Note that the more customer service friendly you become, the higher your customers’ expectations and the need for even better service. Customer Service is the very essence of the business.

Now you can see why despite the buzz about customer experience. Many companies still have very poor service, and keep doing the things customers hate.

Cameroon Public Sector Customer Experience: Governments Biggest Failure!!!

It is very common for Civil Servants in Cameroon to give extremely poor customer service to those who visit public offices. A recent survey done by Institute of Customer Service Cameroon demonstrate that of 10 sectors surveyed, public and para-public companies as well as state agencies and ministries have the lowest customer experience score in the Country.

This consistent poor service affects the very productivity of state corporations and the internal customer service explains the low morale and lack of patriotism in civil servants.

This poor service has 5 obvious consequences:

–        It reduces the confidence of the public in the government in place.

–        Makes the delivery of public services very costly and inefficient.

–        Accounts for the falling output of public sector employee’s performance.

–        Makes it difficult for government to achieve its mission.

When state agencies focus on improving the citizen experience—for instance, making it easier to complete a transaction in a more timely manner, this can improve the citizen’s voluntary compliance, make the delivery of services more cost effective, and improve the citizen’s trust in government. (D’Emidio et Al,2017)

One of the best ways governments can demonstrate that they work better for the people is by improving the customer experience with government services. This can be achieved by making public sector customer experience a top priority, simplifying and speeding up the way people get public services such as paying taxes, obtaining arrears and allowances, the ease with which people make their way through airport security, through ministerial services, as well as all other services government provides.

Meyers. M. et Al (2016), stipulate that as governments look to build a workforce able to tackle the tough, interconnected challenges of the 21st century, strengthening the government employee experience is particularly critical. By treating employees as customers, agencies have the chance to improve both the employee experience and their own ability to execute their mission.

This brings to light the concept of the internal Customer, the civil servant themselves. If government cannot ensure a consistent high work experience for its employees, it is difficult for them to render a positive and consistent good service to the public.

As a civil servant you must look at the service you provide through the customer’s eyes, and this will help you see how to make it better. To truly think, act and plan from a customer viewpoint is highly challenging and thus requires a holistic and ‘eyes open’ approach. This requires putting in place a structured and systemic approach. One of the ways you can do this is by looking at the customer journey. This consists of identifying all ways in which the customers interact with you, and map out the process, tools, systems, and expectations across each stage. You must ask yourself this basic question; how do customers feel when I serve them, and what are their emotions? Then see how to improve these reactions to your service? (Smith. N. 2016)

If the public sector can root itself in the basic principles of customer experience design and research as well as the Six pillars of Personalisation, Integrity, Expectations, Empathy, Time & Effort and Resolution, then the barriers which stand in the way of innovation and service delivery will soon become more manageable and easier to navigate. To do this is to position the public sector once again as truly for the public it aims to serve, thus enabling it to achieve its mission (KPMG, Nunwood n.d.)

The Public Customer Experience in Cameroon may be bad, but something can be done about it. It must start from the top and with every government unit defining its mission, reviewing its processes and developing a strong customer centric culture. This requires an active intervention of State ministers and head of services and corporations. State Corporations must compete with private organizations from the perspective of quality services.

Improved public sector Customer experience would permit to:

–        Improve the Economic climate and boast economic growth.

–        Improve public confidence in the state.

–        Increase patriotism and love for the Nation.

By: Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy ( Customer Experience Consultant / Master trainer)

References:

D’Emidio. T., Malfara. D. & Neher. K. (2017), Improving the customer experience to achieve government-agency goals. Retrieved from : https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-sector/our-insights/improving-the-customer-experience-to-achieve-government-agency-goals Visited 11/03/18

KPMG, Nunwood (n.d). Customer experience design in the public sector: provoking innovation through service user research. Retrieved from https://www.nunwood.com/excellence-centre/blog/2016/customer-experience-design-in-the-public-sector-provoking-innovation-through-service-user-research/ visited on 11/03/2018

Meyers. M., Roth. H., Niu. E., & Dye. D, (2016), Employees as customers: Reimagining the employee experience in government. Retrieved from: https://www2.deloitte.com/insights/us/en/industry/public-sector/treating-employees-as-customers-in-government.html visited on 10/03/2018

Smith. N. (2016), Improving customer experience of public sector services. Retrieved from: https://www.nsandi-gps.com/latest-improving-citizen-experience-public-sector-services/ Visited on 10/03/2018.

The top 10 things customers hate and how to avoid or resolve them.

This article examines the top 10 things customers hate, things that lead to poor customer service. It also gives the solutions that permit an improvement in customer service and user experience.

1.     Not keep the promise

Most often we or our marketing team emit messages and make promises to our customers. This could be through adverts, publicity or public relations. We create brochures or websites and use words that raise the customers expectations about our brand and our product. This is a promise we are making to the customer, which we must keep. When we fail to keep, this leaves the customer very dissatisfied and could lead to high churn and abandon rates. In its article on the power of keeping promises, the American Management Association makes this clear; we should not drive people to a flawed service, as advertising and driving people to your business, without a powerful brand identity—leads to failure.

This is the solution: You should learn to under promise and over deliver. Keep the expectations low and exceed them at every sales contact. Or Master the level of expectations set and meet up to them with a little extra each time.

2.     Long waiting time

Customers hate waiting indefinitely, people are busy and do not come to your company or service to spend all their time. Some service representative just find delight in keeping staff waiting. This creates a very negative impression about our brand and our service.

The solution to this is better queue management. Let the customer know how much time they will have to wait. Distract them during waiting time with maybe a TV to watch, a newspaper or magazine to flip through or a coffee. Notify them of the waiting time. They should know how many people will be served first. This requires skill and friendly nature. Some organisations use an electronic queue management system but the human touch remains very vital.

3.     Treating people as a number or reference

It is common to treat customers as a number, maybe their number on the line, the hospital bed number or the complaint ticket number. This is a grave error and could lead to great dissatisfaction.

The solution is simple. Learn to call people by their names. Each time they come try to remember or retain one thing about them. A person’s name is the  sweetest word in any language. That is why we can hear our names even if we were asleep.

4.     Allowing customers face the same problem every time

The customer may forgive you on a problem they channel to you the first time but will not if they come back for the same problem or face the same challenge a second time. Quite often customers have the same complaint every time. They are received by the same service representatives who will claim every other time to be working on a solution. This kills the brand and destroys the image of the organization.

The solution to this is to escalate any challenges you may not be able to solve, jot down every customer complaint , obtain their contacts and be the one to give them feedback on the evolution of their problems and not them checking on you on how far the problem has been resolved. Note that you must write it down and not rely on your brain. Some organisations manage this through Customer relationship management software. Call the customer often to know if they were satisfied with the solution offered.

5.     Delay in responding to messages and emails

Poor service is not only when the customer is in front of you. As we communicate with them we could already be offering them poor service. It is possible for the customer to know even from your tone of voice, or from your written reply if you are smiling or frowning. Many service representatives just ignore emails and messages and focus on the customer physically present. Others read them, flag them and plan to reply latter, most of them forget totally.

The solution here is replying to all business emails and messages within 24hours. Any reply after 24Hours is a sign of poor service. This does not mean you must provide a solution within 24 hours. This means acknowledge reception of the email and indicate the actions to be taken and how long it will take.

6.     Customer explaining their problem over again to another staff

One of the most challenging things customers face is explaining their problem over and over to different customer representatives or staff of the organization. The customer comes to you and spends 10 minutes explaining his challenge, and you notice you are not the right person to handle, then you simply direct the customer to another person for the customer to explain again. This really hurts!

The solution is taking ownership of the problem, understanding the problem and recapitulating it to the person who can handle. You must walk the customer to the right person and do the introduction yourself. Then do a follow up and ensure that the problem was effectively solved.

7.     Not having a phone number to call.

Many organisations are so difficult to contact, most have no social media or Website that enable ease of access. Most have social media and websites but the telephone numbers lead you to a dead end. It is never reachable or always busy. Customers get irritated when they have to drive long distances for simple information they could get by phone. How many times have you called your company or organisations’ phone line to see for yourself what customers go through?

The solution is an efficient phone management system. We should ensure that we are reachable on phone and quality check regularly to be sure the phone lines go through.

8.     Not putting yourself in the customers place

Many sales representatives and employees just feel the customers are just being too hard, too exigent, so difficult. This is because on a daily basis they receive and handle challenges, this makes them to see challenges as normal and reduces their human side. They stop seeing the customer’s situation as unique. Most people see it as just another task to be tackled. This mindset leads to a look warm nature in the manner in which the customer’s problem is handled.

This can be resolved by understanding that the customer is unique and that it could be us in that situation. How would we handle it if we were the once having that problem. How would we expect it to be handled if it was you or me having that problem. We must put ourselves in the customer’s position, then we will understand the customer’s pain and challenge, and even if we do not offer an immediate solution we will offer a humane and satisfactory way forward.

9.     Being very hard to reach or too busy

Have you ever been to a shop and the sales person is so busy that they cannot give you information, or go to the restaurant and the sales person looks so hardworking and busy that they don’t even notice you have walked in? That is what we are talking about. You felt frustrated, you felt like leaving, you felt like your presence or absence meant nothing. That should not however be the case.

The solution to this is; first and foremost, smile with the customers on first contact even if for the moment you are busy, this smile means you are welcome and I will be with you soon. Next at the least opportunity understand what they need and tell them how long it will take to serve them. You must develop a strong ability to multitask and remain cheerful and professional.

10. Dealing with Inexperienced Staff

A Genesys Global Survey reveals that more than 78% of customers feel the service representative accounts for the customer experience received. Staff who do not master the products they are selling will tend to offer poor service as they may not fully satisfy the customer with their display of product mastery.

The solution consists of being professional and know the technical aspects of the job. This permits the customer to save time and to have the right advice on the purchase. It also permits the organization to make more sales as the sales persons or customer service rep become product or service counselors

These 10 things explain poor service. In our article on why companies continue to have poor service. It is evident that some companies do not even know they have these problems and as such keep hurting the customers.

Here is an image of the article, 10 things customers hate.

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