Customer service is the interaction clients have with your company 

Ms Ruth Ndawula

What you need to know:

A study by Strategic Research Management (2021) revealed that customer service trumps all when it comes to attracting and retaining consumers 

Between Monday and Friday (October 3 to 7), companies across the globe will celebrate the International Customer Service Week and like many Ugandans, you must be wondering, what the fuss?

There are bigger things to celebrate, right? Well, not quite, especially if you are in the service sector. There is a popular meme on twitter that says, ‘my product is the best, but I don’t have the best prices around town.’

It is bred by the notion that; if your product is of high quality, you should not care about other client needs beyond giving them the quality. This is exactly where many businesses go wrong.

Firstly, let us address the elephant in the room. Why is customer service so important? The question is best answered by first explaining customer service which is the interaction a customer has with an organisation.

Customer service is often under customer experience, which encompasses perceptions and feelings resulting from interactions with a brand's products and services.

A study by Strategic Research Management (2021) revealed that customer service trumps all when it comes to attracting and retaining consumers. When asked for their number one reason for choosing and staying with a given financial institution, respondents gave more votes to great service than product quality, ease of use and personal recommendations.

Therefore, quality customer service, leads to customer satisfaction, which increases customer retention and consequently, ignites the engine that is top selling and cross selling.

Customers expect a positive, memorable, but even more pertinently, an experience that exceeds their expectations. Here is how you stand out from the crowd.

Have an in depth understanding of who your customer is, their needs, wants, and what the key influencers of loyalty are.

Also, be intentional with the customer experience you want to offer, make this consistent and build customer relationship management systems that are not complex.

The customer experience strategy should be relevant to your target audience and the business needs to keep a watchful eye on behavior shifts to pivot as needed, demonstrating skill and dedication to doing what it takes to evolve.  

There can be multiple touch points of seamless communication and service for sales, customer support, customer feedback, and marketing. This will enable you to observe the customers’ interactions with your brand for the purposes of gathering crucial insights.

The key turner here is making your offline and online customer interactions cohesive so that customers can smoothly connect with the brand through their preferred channels. In Uganda, there are some companies that have mustered this.

Take for instance, in the insurance sector, it is important to understand that unforeseen situations can happen at any time and, therefore, it is important to create a 24-hour call centre to provide  reassurance to customers that they are truly covered, irrespective of the time of the day.

Beyond this, create other touch points such as websites, social media, and frequent physical engagements through which your company can communicate with clients.

Furthermore, obtaining customer feedback and implementing it is crucial for business sustainability. For example, because of customer feedback, UAP Old Mutual recently launched the Digital Salvage Auction Site to make the process of Salvage Bidding seamless, convenient, and swift.

The platform provides instant access to salvage products and related information to customers without having to step out of their homes or places of comfort. This means individuals looking to buy salvages can view, bid, buy, and receive salvage products without hustling in queues.

Therefore, customer feedback is key to identify customer needs and can be a source of business development and growth.

After evaluating the customer journey and touchpoints, you can establish the platforms they prefer to communicate on. From then on, it is important to ensure that communications across all those platforms is consistent to help product knowledge and most importantly, turnaround time.

To achieve this level of coherence, you need to ensure that the individuals manning the touch points are trained to achieve the standard required to attend to customers. For the digital experience, options such as self-service and live chat on the website, atop video interaction tools can help companies engage with clients in real time.

The offline options include celebrating customers as part of your success by making them part and parcel of your company events, executing exciting customer loyalty programmes, and taking into consideration their queries and implementing the solutions required.

The Customer Service Week is one such opportunity for your company to set sail on customer experience excellence. A good example is the UAP Old Mutual Customer Service Week health camp which will be from the October 3 to 7, where customers and the public will receive free medical checks to screen blood pressure measurements, BMI measurements, Random Blood Sugar testing, HIV testing, consultation explanation of results, as well as optical and dental checkups, and a blood donation drive.

Ms Ruth Ndawula, is the UAP Old Mutual customer experience manager