Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 17th 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 everywhere 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
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 busi-
A branded customer experience is all-impor-
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
calculate 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
By the same token, customer service doesn t
only happen here or there. It occurs every-
where. 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
Web site to the last invoice.
Customer service is also the manifestation
of organisational culture and as such requires
nurturing and monitoring, along with formal
company commitment. The 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 service focus.
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 and knowledge
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-
sizing 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-
The programme kicks off on the August
4, 2014, and registration is currently ongoing.
The registration deadline is July 28. Please
contact the Arthur Lok Jack Graduate School
of Business on 645-6700, ext 363 or 186
for further details.
BUSINESS GUARDIAN www.guardian.co.tt JULY 2014 • WEEK THREE
Arthur Lok Jack GSB
What's the return
on investment for
in the Caribbean?
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