President’s Comments – February 2016

In any economic environment, good customer service is paramount, so 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, said Mr Ron Hay, President of the Whyalla Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In very loose terms 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 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.

It is also suggested that customer service, starts even before customers come through the door, therefore 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.

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.

It is probably fair to say, that we have all experienced a level of poor customer service from time to time, due to a number of reasons and we all know that someone who experiences bad service, will go and tell at least 20 others, with negative impact on a business.

Mr Hay said, 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. 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 travellers to help maintain and increase our community’s economy.

Mr Hay said, the Chamber strives to promote good customer service through its Business of the Month Award and when customers take time to fill in the Chamber’s nomination form, this is a sure sign that they have experienced good customer service, which is not only the ‘backbone’ of the Chamber’s Award, but also a necessity for business survival.

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.

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