A commitment to customer service excellence is paramount for the survival, growth and long-term success of any company. The level of customer service delivery offered by an organisation can literally make or break it. In this day and age of rapid technological advancements, instantaneous information and more customised product and service offerings, consumer tastes have become highly sophisticated. Not only do customers demand products of premium quality but they also expect the accompanying service to be of the highest standard possible. Internationally it has been shown that customers simply will not tolerate poor, shoddy, discourteous or unprofessional service even though the product offered may be of a good standard. They are extremely discerning and resourceful and when faced with poor customer service they will simply turn to a competitors’ product that offers a better standard of customer service.
A company must ensure that the customer’s first impression, contact and experience with it is a positive, enjoyable and delightful one. If the customer’s experience is memorable there is a greater likelihood that that customer will use that company’s product or service again. That company will also benefit from word-of-mouth referral. However, a dissatisfied customer who has been subjected to poor service will likely relate the ordeal to friends, family and co-workers. For any firm, repeat purchases from existing customers are crucial since it is much more costly and time-consuming to attract new customers. In fact, attracting a new customer is five times the cost of keeping an existing customer satisfied.
A customer service culture must be embraced by every department of a company and permeate every layer of an organisation. Every function of an organisation, for example, accounts, human resource management, IT, operations and others must adopt a culture and mindset that is committed to providing excellent customer service on a consistent basis. Furthermore, customer service in reality part and parcel of every employee’s job and so the prevailing mindset of some sectors and industries in TT needs to be altered significantly.
Regardless of the type of sector, business category or industry in question, customer service excellence is a necessity. The challenge in terms of implementing a culture of customer service excellence in TT is that the systems, operations and procedures that are in place in many local companies do not encourage customer service excellence. For example, in retail outlets, customer service is not given the attention it rightly deserves. The customer may, for example, experience long wait times while the CSR performs multiple tasks, or "terms of endearment" may be casually used by untrained staff. Despite often receiving poor service, local consumers often accept and actually continue to patronise the establishment. The reasons for this might vary, but it usually comes down to a telling one – they feel it does not get better at another establishment. In short, poor customer service is the norm, not the exception.
The prevailing culture in TT is not one that questions and seeks to redress poor levels of customer service. For customer service excellence to be realised and embraced locally, it must have the buy in and support of all concerned. Only with a concerted, unified and sustained effort by all the key players in the local economy will the objective of customer service excellence move closer to reality.