Articles
Strategic Service Thinking PDF Print E-mail

BY PAUL DORRIAN.

T
he concept of strategy is (to all intents and purposes) aimed at outmanoeuvreing your competition by putting your product or organisation into a more advantageous position in the marketplace relative to those competitors, where it matters most. And, as we know, where it matters most is in the minds of your customers. If customers believe you to be better than your opposition, then indeed you are better. In an era when it is becoming increasingly difficult to create and sustain competitive advantages, more and more companies are seeking to obtain that longer lasting edge through customer service. In other words, service is playing a greater strategic role in the affairs of more and more business organisations, than ever before.

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Is Personalised Service Possible? PDF Print E-mail

BY PAUL DORRIAN.

I
have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I have experienced service from a company with which I have been doing business, the thought occurs to me that customer service in South Africa is so poor, that I wonder where this country is heading. Hardly a day goes by without me having to experience broken promises, bad manners, negligence, shoddy workmanship, abrasive telephone manners or downright incompetence. "You should be delighted" I can almost hear some of you say. The more bad service there is, the more work for consultants like yourself the more cynical among you are probably thinking. Yet that is not the point. What concerns me is that the level of customer service provided in South Africa today, on the whole, is a reflection of South African society. How on earth can we possibly hope to care for our customers if at first we do not care for one another? And caring for one another goes beyond basic manners. It means caring about the feelings, sentiments and emotions of our fellow man, no matter who that person is or what his or her background happens to be. There is simply not enough of that happening in this country. I also get the feeling that many customer care initiatives are mercenary in nature in that they are meant to quickly generate extra revenue in the short term, or get a company out of a corporate hole that it has dug for itself , instead of genuinely seeking to build long term, value adding customer relationships. It often appears that most of us strive to get as much as possible for ourselves out of every customer interaction and to hell with everyone else, even the customer.

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Service Excellence At The Frontline PDF Print E-mail

By Paul Dorrian.

R
osabeth Moss Kanter, the Harvard Business School professor, summed it up quite precisely when she noted that frontline people shape the customer's experience.[1] Quite an obvious observation you may be thinking. Yet time and time again business organisations neglect to cement the correlation between these two variables. The problem appears to be twofold. Firstly, securing a practical and thorough definition of the term "frontline person" within one's organisation. Secondly ensuring that the right person is appointed to the relevant frontline position, supported by regular training and guidance. The problem of course becomes compounded if further up the corporate ladder, the people who are supposed to provide the training and support themselves pay only lip service to the philosophy. Emanating from this particular scenario lies a number of current issues that never cease to amaze me about many local companies.

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Customer Care When Things Go Wrong PDF Print E-mail

BY PAUL DORRIAN.

O
ne of the most effective ways of generating customer appreciation and possibly even loyalty is by implementing genuine corrective measures that will put matters right when events go awry. When business is running smoothly, it is easy for a company to claim that its customer care consciousness and application is of a high standard. The real measure of the company's willingness to care for its customers however, is its reactions to problems that occur before, during or after the sale has been made. No matter how attentive to customer care a company and its people think they are, it is inevitable that there will be times when events do not work out as planned. Yet most business organisations overlook this critical part of customer relationship building, failing to realise that a problem put right could be worth in loyalty terms much more than the initial value of the sale. Customers tend to trust the company that corrects complaints and problems to the customers' satisfaction much more than the company that doesn't, and more so if no problem has ever occurred in the first place. The relationship with the customer has therefore taken a curious twist. For when a problem has been rectified to the customer's satisfaction, the supplying organisation is viewed in a different light. In the customer's mind that company and its people have truly been tried and tested. The customer knows that if things go wrong, all will be well. The relationship has been enhanced.

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