Dear customer, I hope you are enjoying all the good vibes of the customer service week. Maybe yes or maybe no. I believe that every week is a time to delight our clients.
Customer service is not something businesses do one week in a year; it is something they do every day. This is not to say that I do not participate in the weeklong celebrations. I join in and I encourage all firms to mark the week.
Every year, I believe the festivities contribute to making our lives a little better. Since it is our week, let us give businesses as much feedback as possible. They benefit from our feedback as it helps them improve and serve us better.
It helps businesses see themselves from an external perspective. Some assume that everything is fine because they have not received any feedback from their customers. Please do not keep your feedback to yourself. Both compliments and complaints are crucial to business survival. Share ideas by turning them into opportunities to improve. To keep the team energised all year round, share the compliments.
Besides sharing feedback with businesses, do you suppose we have other responsibilities as customers? Do we have any major responsibility towards business survival? Do we have any say in how we interact with businesses? Although they have a greater obligation to their customers, we, as customers, also have a responsibility.
Ours has not attracted much attention in discussions about what is ailing businesses. Our primary responsibility, in my opinion, is to pay for the services and things we consume and to do so on time. Clients that delay or refuse to pay are a common source of heartache for businesses. I believe we can support businesses by keeping our word on payments. It is not in order for businesses to spend most of their time ‘chasing’ customers for payments.
As customers, we have some control over our interactions with businesses. The best way to take charge of this is to make our expectations known to our customers.
Though our expectations are growing some businesses are not matching them. Some feel it is okay to respond to an urgent email in 24 hours. Others charge you five times for a glass broken by accident. Another area where we need to take charge is ensuring that businesses have accurate information about us.
Businesses have a responsibility to keep their customers’ databases updated. However, this is only possible if we share that information with them. We should not hold it against businesses if they do not contact us, yet we refuse to provide our contact information to them.
Furthermore, as customers, we have a moral obligation to act ethically. Why file a false claim and then complain about it when rejected? Why fail to follow basic instructions and complain of delay? Why insist on taking shortcuts and whine about substandard work?
Businesses must take the lead in directing their customers’ obligation. Customers' obligations are outlined in various customer service charters. As part of ‘Know Your Customer’, for example, the customer is responsible for providing accurate information. Perhaps businesses should have a customers’ conduct code.
Customers' specific duties can be clearly defined by businesses. This, I believe, would assist in reducing the amount of friction between businesses and customers. Join me this week in reflecting on how to be better customers!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy