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Finding innovative ways to improve customer relationship is integral to the success of a business, Eliezer Workplace Management, one of the leading facility management companies in Africa has said.
According to the Lagos-based company, the customer service system in Nigeria became the most talked about concept a few years back and thus led to a better supplier-customer relationship.
However, the problem in the approach to customer feedback still lies in in a country that has the highest population in Africa.
“Cliches like ‘customer are always right, the customer is king, we are in business because of you’ were very popular. These statements were a description of what several industries hoped to model and exemplify in their approach. Has it worked? Yes, it has,” David Korede, the Executive Director of Eliezer Workplace Management said.
Dele Olaniyi, a manager at a consulting firm situated in Lagos shared his experience with a customer service provider from one of the country’s tier one banks and he had this to say- “My bank’s customer care agent called me to ask for my experience regarding their services. Then she went ahead to ask what areas of improvement they needed to focus in order to serve me better, I took my time to explain, as calmly as possible. She thanked me and the line went off.”
Three weeks later, Olaniyi said he was called again by the same bank. “I was called from the same bank by another customer care agent asking the same questions, I rattled off the same information because I want to give them the benefit of doubt.”
The manager said, perhaps, the info he gave the last time was not entered into some database or the person that was in charge had been fired.
“By the time I got the third and fourth call, it began to get very annoying. The question you want to ask at that point is, “what happened to all the feedback I have given before?” Olaniyi questioned.
Studies have shown that the scenario is not far-fetched from the experiences many have had to endure from some other industries and businesses.
This was affirmed when BusinessDay reached out to Ada, a business woman in Enugu state as she complained about the inefficient manner at which the company that supplies goods to her shop conducts its customer feedback. Mohammed from far away north and Jegede from Ekiti state made similar comments about their various industries.
“It’s a two edge problem. The first is the problem of data, some industry till date has no data, no feedback policy, no means whatever of measuring their customer satisfaction,” Korede explained.
According to the executive director of Eliezer Facility manament, the second problem is that of implementation. “When feedback is given, it is so that the recipient can effect those changes and deliver a more excellent service to its customers. Not so in Nigeria. It seems more like many industries, haven solved the first problem, don’t know the way forward, the implementation and changes that need to be put in place. So they keep collecting these data- feedback and do nothing with it.”
According to the facility management company, there are many ways companies and stakeholders have used to embrace feedback when dealing with clients to get customers’ feedback and this include but not limited to: customer satisfaction survey, customer feedback form, and customer service survey. “It is safe then to say that there are means of generating feedback when dealing with customers, and the means of measuring satisfaction through these forms are very valid.”
The manual approach to getting customers’ feedback poses a few challenges and study have shown that if businesses cannot effectively measure customer satisfaction, they will soon lose them to their competitors.
The problem with using traditional means to measure customer satisfaction and generate feedback is that the business is not able to get more robust and objective feedback based on several factors and market condition. This can pose as a threat to the business because decision can be taken based on the wrong reasons, analysis of a survey by Eliezer facility management show.
With the advent of technology, doing business has changed and evolved in Nigeria, unfortunately, customer service approach is yet to efficiently utilise the use of technology in ensuring an efficient use of customer feedback.
Thus, Eliezer Facility Management recommends the use of technology, research, innovative and creative measures to enable a company to achieve the desired result from the data compiled from customer-feedback.
“Sometimes, the challenge of customer feedback comes from the employees who are in charge of the customer service department. In another part of the word, creativity has been infused into much of the professional fields. It doesn’t have to be robotic and dogmatic. Perhaps when dealing with machines, that work but when dealing with humans, it is very important and necessary for some creative ideas.”
It further recommended that companies should “research about your customers, basic information about their demography that gives a background knowledge of who it is you are talking with. I understand in many services providing companies to have a customer service department who have a script they read from every time they get a call.”
The company also noted the fact that customer service starts from the top to the bottom of the pyramid, “it begins with the management understanding the need to be customer-centric and taking the necessary steps to model this to all the staff. Whenever there is some form of misunderstanding in the bank, customers always yells, “where is your manager? I demand to see your manager!” it is at least expected that management should understand customer service better than anyone else in the business. Once the management is able to absolve this, it’s easy for the staff to follow likewise.”
The Pan-African facility management company added that Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software makes the process of getting customers’ feedback smooth, easy and convenient.
CRM software is a category of softwares that cover a broad set of applications designed to help businesses manage many of the following processes: customer data, customer interaction, access business information, automate sales and etc. Top CRM software that can be maximized in 2019 is Freshdesk, Zoho CRM, Salesforce Desk, Zendesk, and Jira service desk.