Getting it right

Of late, the subject of poor service being offered to customers doing business at establishments has become rather topical. The fact that this matter has raised its ugly head warrants that there is a need to sit up and take note, but moreover immediately look at ways to address this issue. In any country which accepts that it is a service oriented driven economy, this development is one of grave concern.

Offering good service to customers whether it is within the private sector or the public service has to seen as the best that can be had. It however starts with the establishing of a set of standards that management has the responsibility for developing and enforcing.

If the customers’ expectations are to be met, it means that management must have a good idea of what is required to promote the image and reputation of the enterprise or organization.

Front line workers are usually the recipients of the hostility of customers, who often accuse them of poor communication skills. More often than not the apparent poor service can be attributed to factors such as inadequate personality trait of the individual employee, the lack of training, poor recruitment and selection on the part of the employer, the limitations imposed upon the employee to use his/her initiative and/or commonsense; particularly where the individual slavishly follows the instruction(s) given by the employer.

It is unfortunate that some employers are sometimes quick to lay the blame at the feet of their employees, when in fact the employer has failed to do what is required, so as not to expose employees to harsh criticisms and verbal abuse from the public when carrying out their assigned duties.

Customers can be justified in crying out against the delivery of poor customer service when their expectations are not met. When a passenger arrives at the airport at the appropriate check-in, but then finds himself/herself hours later stranded with no information on when the flight will in fact depart, it is understandable that the front-line employee will become the target of the annoyed customer.

It is quite likely that despite how courteous the employees are in attempting to assist, they will not be spared the battering of the irate customers.

In a case like this, management must shoulder the responsibility for any such shortcoming. It is to be reinforced that onus is on management to keep operations running smoothly. If they are mindful of this, it is expected that they are aware that should a customer have a bad service experience, it could either be blamed on the whole brand or on all the employees of the establishment or organisation.

To negate this, it is management responsibility to distribute the product or service in a manner which meets the brand’s standards as well as the customers’ expectations.

For an extended period of time, the regional airline LIAT has been facing a number of customer service challenges. There may be merit in pursuing a discussion as to whom is to blame for this unfortunate state of affairs, but at the end of the day, it is best if management looks at identifying and making the necessary proactive changes to ensure that customer expectations are met.

The management of the airline can take comfort in the fact that at least its air safety record meets with customer expectations. It is now left to management to turn its attention to creating a more customer friendly experience. It may require that an environment is provided where employees are empowered to solve problems.

Further, in responding to the challenges of the times, it is important to maintain the loyalty and commitment of employees. What better way to do this, but ensuring that employees feel respected and valued, as a result, they themselves can deliver quality customer experience.

* Dennis de Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.

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