HR PERSPECTIVE: Business must become more customer focused

HR PERSPECTIVE: Business must become more customer focused
For a long time Zimbabwean organisations have gotten away with being rude and hostile to customers because at the end of the day, it had no real bearing on organisational performance.

For a long time Zimbabwean organisations have gotten away with being rude and hostile to customers because at the end of the day, it had no real bearing on organisational performance.

IT IS amazing how very little attention is paid to the aspect of customer care by a lot of organisations.
While management spends hours on end drafting and crafting strategies, trying to pave the way forward for their organisations, this very important aspect is most often forgotten. It is rather ironic that regardless of what strategies you come up with, the onus at the end of the day rests on the client /customer, without whom you would have no business.
Just trying to get a phone call through to some organisations is a nightmare because the telephone is constantly engaged or no one bothers to answer it, not to mention the time you have to spend on hold after which you are told that the person you are looking for is unavailable, before being unceremoniously cut off without even a chance to ask if someone else could help you.
In some instances, you are told that the person you are looking for is not in and upon requesting on being assisted by someone else, you are rudely informed that no one else except that person can help you so you just have to try calling them back later. Honestly, some of the things you hear are appalling.
There is a serious need for organisations to become customer focused and realise that they exist to serve the customer and going out of their way here and there to please them is mandatory for organisational success.
A customer can be external or internal and both are important. The Human Resources Department, for example, exists to serve internal clients, whom if dissatisfied cannot carry out their work effectively and this has an overall negative bearing on the organisation as a whole. So whether internal or external, the least service you can afford a customer is to please them with efficiency, good attitude and knowhow of what you are doing.
This concept has been so widely understood by organisations in first world countries but now has to be just as equally understood by organisations in Zimbabwe if they are going to be competing in the big league.
This is where customer care courses come in. For a long time Zimbabwean organisations have gotten away with being rude and hostile to customers because at the end of the day, it had no real bearing on organisational performance.
Customers had no option for alternative services or products and in most cases had to swallow abuse, being totally at the mercy of the service or product provider. Make no mistake, if you ill-treat your customers and take them for granted, you are doing that at your own peril.
Some companies are reluctant to train their staff on customer care skills. I still do not understand why? Customer care courses help to re-orient the employees on what is truly important –customers. The objectives of these courses are to create a mind shift for employees from “I am king and this is my domain’’ to “Customer is king and my job here is to delight them with excellent service”.
Employees need to understand that customer service is not in any way linked to the amount of money they are getting on the job or how they are being treated by their superiors.
This is often the justification for poor customer service. What we often forget is that each one of us is at some point a customer or client of someone else, and just as you do not understand why someone may go out of their way to be nasty to you a customer who has done nothing wrong except choose them as their provider of goods or services, is the same confusion that customers face at your hand.
They do not and should not care about your work conditions or that you are not feeling well or you have just had a fight with your boss.
All they should worry about is that their needs are effectively and efficiently met without any emotional pain. The fact that you as a service or goods provider are sitting behind that desk and not at home means you have an obligation to the customer and are bound to deliver good service with a good attitude.
Employees, especially customer facing ones need not only to manage their own behaviour but to understand customer behaviour and how to deal with individual needs.
Skills need to be developed and refreshed to address all aspects of customer service and understanding customer care standards.
Other organisations argue that training should be the least on the agenda of things to do considering the tight cash flows that they are facing. It is true that some organisations can really not afford to train but for others it is a mere excuse to make way for “more important” projects.
What they forget to realise is that training is a long term investment if done correctly, one that will reap them life time rewards. For once an organisational culture of customer excellence is set; it can be easily perpetuated for as long as long as the organisation is in existence.
A while back I wrote about the importance of employer branding and how some organisations would never get people interested in working for them because they have built poor brands for themselves. An employer brand is what insiders and outsiders to the organisation perceive that organisation to be like. Most of it has to do with customer service. Who would want to work in an organisation in which you have been treated like trash? Chances are when the name of that organisation comes up you are quick to point out how terrible they are and this is how an organisation’s image is tarnished just by word of mouth.
It is never too late to make a turnaround for the better and most often the difference between being great and mediocre lies in refocusing and letting the customer be the central focus of all business activity.
Memory Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, Sseaker, & managing consultant — Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi/  Phone 481946-8/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number 077 2356 361 or email: mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com

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