Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 4th 2014 Contents As customers, we are no
strangers to service. We all
understand why service
matters. Yet customer serv-
ice can have a plethora of
meanings. Each and every
one of us has our own unique set of expec-
tations and views about how we are treated
Who looks after the customers?
Customer service is actually sector agnostic.
We walk into a government office and good,
excellent or poor service may greet us. Whether
we go to a car dealership, grocery store, bank
or restaurant, the same range of possibilities
awaits us: will we be delighted or dismayed
by the service we are given. Service is every-
where in the Caribbean and yet, if you we
take a look at the organisational charts of most
institutions, both public and private, there is
usually no custodian for service. So who drives
the vision? Who looks for the opportunities?
Who gives the feedback? Who looks at the
return on investment in customer service?
It s becoming increasingly clear that cus-
tomers not only expect a quality experience
today; they demand it. While the recession
may be starting to slowly ease its grip on the
global economy, companies are still fighting
tooth-and-nail for wallet share. This means
re-engineering the vision and looking for the
opportunities that customer service offers to
private and public companies.
The Caribbean has been almost somnam-
bulistic in recognising that brand recognition
and service go hand in hand. Your service is
your brand! Yet we cannot leave customer
service to happenstance and as an add-on to
the marketing department or the communi-
cation department anymore.
For the standard of customer service to
improve, it has to be seen as a stand-alone
requirement and an imperative for the survival
of Caribbean businesses.
A branded customer experience is
The customer experience is the differentiator
on the return on investment, whether large,
small, medium, public or private entity -- the
Caribbean has to factor in their business DNA
that the customer experience matters.
Welcome to the experience economy. Every
single experience in business matters. There
is a return on investment that we must cal-
culate for every experience and touch-point.
The trend of managing the customer expe-
rience is crossing over from hotels to restaurants
to airlines. Consumers are looking for suppliers
who go beyond the basics to meet their unique
needs. They are looking for a branded customer
Globally, companies recognised this after
the recession hit and their hard sell was a push
for better service at lower cost, which meant
a keener eye for detail on the processes and
the experience management model. These are
the businesses that survived when share of
wallet was slashed in half by the recession.
Rather than recruit new customers, the survival
of the fittest began and companies started
looking for ways to innovate on the experience.
Service re-emerged as the differentiator.
Manage the customer experience
Great customer service doesn t just happen,
as we have seen far too frequently; it isn t
people being nice to each other. Customer
service is a discipline, and as such requires
structure, governance and careful, detailed
management. By the same token, customer
service doesn t only happen here or there. It
occurs everywhere. Service isn t delivered in
a few select channels, nor is it always delivered
face to face. Customer service encompasses
the entire customer journey, from the first
visit to the website to the last invoice.
Customer service is also the manifestation
of organisational culture and as such requires
nurturing and monitoring, along with formal
he Caribbean has so many opportunities
both in the formal and informal sectors to
nurture excellent service models, but a new
language must be spoken; a paradigm shift in
thought has to take place. We need a visible
commitment towards re-engineering the serv-
As a discipline customer service is built
upon an overall framework, creatively designed
and carefully constructed. Without such dis-
cipline, every Caribbean business will have
difficulty becoming a WOW brand and will
instead remain mired along with other organ-
isations that are destined to be here today and
Develop everyone's service skills,
Arguably, we as Caribbean people have too
often fallen into the trap of seeing service as
happenstance and disciplines like marketing,
finance and management have been on the
front burner, but what is a business without
customers? If we draw the value chain, what
is the most important link?
Employee engagement is critical for this
value chain - companies have to start empha-
sising the empowerment of frontline staff to
make wider decisions about how best to resolve
problems. Hiring staff who have the right atti-
tude and then developing their core skills in
customer service is essential.
Most important of all is the commitment
of organisations senior executives and man-
agers, especially as service providers move
towards bespoke offerings and closer customer
relationships. That commitment means work-
ing out a strategy for getting closer to cus-
tomers and matching the service offer to the
customer s needs. It also means developing
everyone s customer service skills and knowl-
edge, from directors and top managers through
team leaders to those at the customer inter-
Azra Nathudkhan is the managing director
of Customer 1st Caribbean Ltd and con-
sultant for Service Excellence Delivery. Cus-
tomer 1st Caribbean Ltd is the local chapter
of United Kingdom-based Customer 1st
The Lok Jack GSB in partnership with
Customer 1st International Ltd will be offer-
ing the fully online Award for Customer
Service Professionals programme which
aims to improve the skills of anybody who
deals with customers.
This programme will have a lasting impact
upon all participants and will transform
service behaviours and professionalism, tak-
ing service provision up to a higher level
and exceeding the expectations of cus-
tomers. The programme kicks off on October
6. Registration is currently ongoing.
The registration deadline is September
30. Please contact the Arthur Lok Jack
Graduate School of Business on 645-6700,
ext 363 or 186 for further details.
SEPTEMBER 2014 • WEEK ONE www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COMMENTARY | BG21
Arthur Lok Jack GSB
What's the ROI
for good customer service?
Links Archive September 3rd 2014 September 5th 2014 Navigation Previous Page Next Page