In my previous comments, said Mr Ron Hay, President of the Whyalla Chamber, I have spoken about tourists, visitors and travelers and tried to put in perspective what each of those persons mean and bring to our community.
For this particular article I will focus on Customer Service and our perception of what it means, to us as a consumer, business owner or staff.
In very loose terms said Mr Hay, customer service may be seen as the total package of both behaviours (by the staff) and goods or services (products), that in effect allow consumers to receive what they want from the business they go to.
When customers enter a business’s premises it is important that they feel they have been greeted and made feel welcome. After all, what do you do when friends come over? Is it a different approach?
They (the customer) also need to feel that whoever is assisting them does everything to make them believe that when they leave the business premises, they feel satisfied and their customer satisfaction level is high, said Mr Hay.
So where might ‘customer satisfaction’ start? Well this can start by developing a strategy to review and further develop your customer service as a retailer for example, as well as taking time to understand what ‘customer service’ may entail. I would again offer the possible definition around what I indicated above.
It is also suggested that customer service, starts even before customers come through the door, said Mr Hay. Staff, need to be trained on a range of skills and knowledge including product knowledge, customer rapport, basic sales techniques and workable solutions and options for customers, to name a few.
In a time when we are witnessing increased amounts of information available to the consumer, it is more important and vital, that staff have good product knowledge for example, to assist customers with the most appropriate item for their needs, said Mr Hay.
To expand on this a little further, an example might be that within a range of products that business might stock, there will be both inexpensive and expensive products, each capable of potentially doing what the customer requires. However, a good sales person will normally provide some comparisons in terms of product operation and differences, which in turn provides the customer with a representation of which item gives them the best overall value.
Mr Hay said, customers do respond to a sales person’s knowledge as a key component of their satisfaction level and satisfied customers make purchases and come back.
Store layout may be another example of an input to customer service and satisfaction. In other words, can they find products and items easily and does it look neat and presentable.
It is probably fair to say said Mr Hay that we have all experienced a level of poor customer service from time to time, due to a number of reasons which may have included, unsatisfactory assistance, understaffed business, inadequately prepared or trained staff or a lack of appropriate product knowledge.
Taking this a step further, we all know that someone who experiences bad service, will go and tell at least 20 others, with negative impact on a business. On the other hand, if they receive good service, then they provide a positive picture of that business, which can lead to increase sales for that business, increased turnover and profit.
Providing a good level of customer service and understanding the basis of it, should be clearly driven by the Manager or owner of the business, through clear expectations and discussing those requirements with staff said Mr Hay.
Our local economy relies not only on local customers to support and spend money within our city but it also relies on tourists, visitors and travelers to help maintain and increase our community’s economy.
When customers take time to fill in the Chamber’s nomination form for the Business of the Month said Mr Hay, this is a sure sign that they have experienced good customer service and this is the ‘backbone’ of the Chamber’s Business of the Month Award and ultimately, the Business of the Year.
Good service is a bit like perfecting your golf game or some other activity you participate in, through a level of dedication and focus for example. Once you achieve this, the real work is to maintain it and improve.
Mr Hay said, it is therefore important that as a business community, we strive to develop a level of service that is consistent with an ability to continually raise our approach and level of delivery, so that we are truly a shopping hub, that has great diversity and excellent people working in it to promote the right atmosphere that customers will engage with and go away with a positive experience and more importantly, come back.