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Ghanaian hospitality should boost customer service – Sylvia Inkoom

The generally warm nature of Ghanaians towards guests and to a large extent towards one another should have been a strong driver of good Customer Experience. This asset is yet to blossom and be turned into a competitive advantage for us as a nation and in Corporate Ghana.

Head of Client Coverage at Stanbic Bank Ghana, Sylvia Inkoom, has observed.
“Overplaying the Ghanaian ‘niceness’ has created a situation where we may not be paying the right attention to the little things that happen along value creation and delivering service to our customers. This eventually goes against us,” she stated.

“Whiles I won’t say that relatively our service levels is the worst, there is a lot of scope to deliberately enhance Customer Experience both within the public and private sectors” she added.

Sylvia Inkoom said this in an interview with the Daily Graphic.

No customer No Business

She also urged companies and public institutions to put positive Customer Experience at the heart of their operations if they want to survive.

She urged them to endeavour to meet customer needs with the right solution, at the right time and in the right way.

“It may sound simplistic but it is at the crust of a Positive Customer Experience. Getting your needs met with the right solution, and at the right time and in the right way will most likely leave you a satisfied customer. This we like to call the Brilliant Basics” she explained.

According to Sylvia, companies exist because of customers, therefore in order to remain in business, it is necessary for companies not to take their clients for granted.

“Every company’s answer to the question of Purpose (Why are we here?) will lead you to a Customer. Companies exist to meet specific customer needs and will continue to exist only when they are able to maintain these customers through good Customer Service” she noted.

“There are 23 banks in Ghana selling just about the same products to customers. Hence, the differentiator will be Service, Service and Service. Our Competitors can replicate the technology, they can replicate systems, they can replicate structures and even poach our people but what they cannot reproduce is how our Customer Service is delivered. This should hence be every company’s principal focus” she explained.

Customer Service Evolving

Sylvia pointed out that Customer Service, like any other phenomenon is having its fair share of change and disruption by current trends. Service is no longer a department within an organization but an experience that must permeate the entire spectrum of an organization’s process / product delivery from the highest to the lowest in the value chain.

“A few years back most organizations had a Customer Service Department because our approach back then was to entrust the responsibility of Customer Satisfaction in the hands of a few people who were mainly front line and customer facing, while the rest of the organization focused on what was then referred to as the ‘core’ business issues of Product Development, Engineering, Marketing, Finance and Sales” She observed that “Customer Service / Satisfaction was more of somebody’s ‘Job Description’ rather than everyone’s collective responsibility”

“With time, the view of the Customer has completely shifted, we speak about Client Centricity, having the right Customer attitude and mindset, stretching all the way to a Customer Lifetime Value Proposition. This approach to Customer Experience makes it everybody’s responsibility from Product Development all through to post-sale Customer Relationship management. My typical Client Service Team in Stanbic Ghana comprises Operations, IT, Compliance, Marketing, Risk, among others” she stressed.

Sophisticated Customers

“Every customer walks into our premises with a need which must be satisfied. Some of the basic ones include the need for Attention, Respect, Empathy, Speed of Service and Accuracy. These are little things that make the most impact on Customers if you asked me. How many times have we not been irritated by staff who are totally dismissive of our presence in their premises because they are watching TV, chatting, on social media or distracted in some other way? These are the cheapest and easiest to get right. We can’t fail on these!” she emphasized.

Our Customers are getting sophisticated with each passing day; they have rightfully raised their standards and expectations of solution providers. This requires businesses to level up to match their ever-changing needs.
Customer Satisfaction is a function of Experience and Expectation. If a customer interacts with us through any platform, our ability to satisfy this customer will depend on their previous experiences, expectations and the experience we provide them there and then.

Although every company has its Customer Service Framework, she stressed the importance of not adopting a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, instead companies should acknowledge the uniqueness of each customer’s needs and expectations and address them on such basis.

Internal Customer

‘The Customer is King’, whenever we hear the aforementioned we tend to think of an external person walking into our company to transact with us.
An organization’s first set of clients are its employees and externally, its customers. Clients do not come first, Employees do. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients. A customer here is an employee elsewhere and an employee here is a customer elsewhere.

“In Stanbic, one of the things we focus on when talking about Customers is the internal customer. Our employees are our first customers and taking good care of them, puts them in a place ready to give good care and good customer service to the external client” she added.

With all that said, my personal take on Customer Satisfaction is that ‘One is as good as their customers think they are’. This brings to the fore the need for continuous Customer feedback. Check-in with your clients, take in what they say and improve on what you do, it is cheaper and it is better.

Source: Akoi-Larbi, Kojo

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