Lobbying for Good Customer Service at the Workplace

By Ben Henry

The delivery of quality customer service is not something that is widespread in Jamaica. Indeed, only a few organizations see this as crucial to their survival. Even with the present competition, most organizations still do not seem to realize that training of employees in customer service is important in order to maintain a competitive advantage in the sector in which they do business. The coming of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) will intensify competition. It will be a "dog eat dog" world out there, like it or not.

In businesses like hardware and home improvement, the sector is crowded and it is getting worse. Rapid Sheffield and Hardware and Lumber have merged. Then there is Mainland, Stewart's Hardware, and other substantial businesses in the sector. And then you have numerous small mom and pop enterprises. The supermarket sector in Jamaica is just as crowded.

How does one do business and remain viable in such as ever-changing environment? A whole new thinking is absolutely essential to survival. It cannot be business as usual if an organization is to survive.

It's time Jamaican businesses wake up and smell the coffee. They have to begin to see the need for training their staff. Spending money on training staff is not a luxury ... it's an absolute necessity.

In every organization that is devoid of a service culture, there is at least one person who delivers world-class service. I am calling upon that tiny group in such an organization to become Customer Service Activists. These excellent service providers could use their influence to persuade their supervisors and managers to embrace the idea that delivering exceptional customer service is a win-win for all stakeholders - customers, employees, supervisors and managers, and the organization.

There are a number of core or fundamental characteristics that define customer service activism. The customer service activist is committed to spreading the advantages of good customer service to co-workers and supervisors/managers alike. They will lobby for good customer service at the workplace, and get others to buy into the idea of good customer service delivery.

The customer service activist is committed to attending customer service seminars and workshops. If the organization is reluctant to pay for the activist to go to these seminars, he does not hesitate to pay for the seminar out of his own pocket. The customer service activist always keeps abreast on new customer service thinking. This kind of behaviour gets noticed by managers, supervisors and line employees.

The following descriptors of customer service delivery, divided in three dimensions, are practiced daily by customer service activists:

Dimension 1: (Personal Excitement): Enthusiastic, Knowledgeable, Inspiring, Humorous, Interesting, Organizer, Engaging, Prepared, Energetic, Fun, Creative, Communicative

Dimension 2: (Interpersonal Concern): Concerned, Caring, Available, Friendly, Accessible, Approachable, Interested, Respectful, Understanding, Personable

Dimension 3: (Effective Teamwork): Helpful, Encouraging, Fair, Patient, Dedicated, Committed

World-class service providers in organizations that do not buy into customer service owe it to their organizations to lobby for good customer service.

Customer service has become the new frontier. It is now the new tool in the competitive game. An organization's differentiation comes in the service. Customer service activists in an organization not committed to the consistent delivery of quality customer care have a crucial role to play in changing this mindset.