The part-time habit of customer service

Today’s consumer is spoilt for choice when deciding where to shop, eat or bank. The service industry is not the only sector where customer choice is growing; education and healthcare are examples of markets where customers are being offered increased choice. This, combined with a society of discerning and savvy customers, means that good customer service is more important now than it ever has been.

If a customer is unsatisfied with the service they receive, they will simply go elsewhere, but provide your customer with excellent service by making them feel valued and important and they will return time and again. Simple and obvious, so why are so many businesses getting it wrong?

I am sure I am not alone when I say that receiving good customer service is a rare treat, as more often than not it is average or unsatisfactory. However, I would like to share some examples of excellent customer service.

On a recent trip to South Africa. waitresses were able to eloquently describe every dish on the menu, make recommendations and encourage you to try something different. Shop assistants laden with heavy boxes stepped aside to let you past and, although busy, still offered their help. One porter told me it was “his pleasure” to get my bags from the luggage room, even though it was the third time that day I had needed to access them.

Being impressed with this level of service – which is actually a demonstration of people doing their jobs properly – shows that the service we are used to in the UK must be far below average. So why is there such a difference?

One explanation could be that working in the service industry in the rest of the world is seen as a profession, but in the UK it is often viewed as a part-time or fill-in job, so employees do not take as much pride in their work.

If businesses do not provide their staff with clear job expectations and customer service training, they cannot be expected to “delight” customers and encourage repeat business. Part-time or temporary should not equal untrained and uncaring. Providing staff training is the responsibility of individual business owners. However, if working as a waitress, bar staff or shop assistant had a higher profile in society, employees would be more likely to approach their jobs with a positive attitude, resulting in better customer service.

Helen Trulock

Director

Spring Marketing

Berkshire

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