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Good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. You can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers as you want, but unless you can get some of those customers to come back, your business won’t be profitable for long.
Good customer service is all about bringing customers back. And about sending them away happy – happy enough to pass positive feedback about your business along to others, who may then try the product or service you offer for themselves and in their turn become repeat customers.
If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it will be your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. The essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with customers – a relationship that that individual customer feels that he would like to pursue.
How do you go about forming such a relationship? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly; “You will be judged by what you do, not what you say.”
I know this verges on the kind of statement that’s often seen on a sampler, but providing good customer service IS a simple thing. If you truly want to have good customer service, all you have to do is ensure that your business consistently does these things:
1) Answer your phone.
Get call forwarding. or an answering service, Hire staff if you need to. But make sure that someone is picking up the phone when someone calls your business. (Notice I say “someone”. People who call want to talk to a live person, not a fake “recorded robot”.)
2) Don’t make promises unless you will keep them.
Not plan to keep them. Will keep them. Reliability is one of the keys to any good relationship, and good customer service is no exception. If you say, “Your new bedroom furniture will be delivered on Tuesday”, make sure it is delivered on Tuesday. Otherwise, don’t say it. The same rule applies to client appointments, deadlines, etc.. Think before you give any promise – because nothing annoys customers more than a broken one.
3) Listen to your customers.
Is there anything more exasperating than telling someone what you want or what your problem is and then discovering that that person hasn’t been paying attention and needs to have it explained again? From a customer’s point of view, I doubt it. Can the sales pitches and the product babble. Let your customer talk and show him that you are listening by making the appropriate responses, such as suggesting how to solve the problem.
4) Deal with complaints.
No one likes hearing complaints, and many of us have developed a reflex shrug, saying, “You can’t please all the people all the time”. Maybe not, but if you give the complaint your attention, you may be able to please this one person this one time – and position your business to reap the benefits of good customer service.
5) Be helpful – even if there’s no immediate profit in it.
The other day I popped into a local watch shop because I had lost the small piece that clips the pieces of my watch band together. When I explained the problem, the proprietor said that he thought he might have one lying around. He found it, attached it to my watch band – and charged me nothing! Where do you think I’ll go when I need a new watch band or even a new watch? And how many people do you think I’ve told this story to?
6) Train your staff (if you have any) to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.
Do it yourself or hire someone to train them. Talk to them about good customer service and what it is (and isn’t) regularly. Most importantly, give every member of your staff enough information and power to make those small customer-pleasing decisions, so he never has to say, “I don’t know, but so-and-so will be back at…”
7) Take the extra step.
For instance, if someone walks into your store and asks you to help them find something, don’t just say, “It’s in Aisle 3”. Lead the customer to the item. Better yet, wait and see if he has questions about it, or further needs. Whatever the extra step may be, if you want to provide good customer service, take it. They may not say so to you, but people notice when people make an extra effort and will tell other people.
8) Throw in something extra.
Whether it’s a coupon for a future discount, additional information on how to use the product, or a genuine smile, people love to get more than they thought they were getting. And don’t think that a gesture has to be large to be effective. The local art framer that we use attaches a package of picture hangers to every picture he frames. A small thing, but so appreciated.
If you apply these eight simple rules consistently, your business will become known for its good customer service. And the best part? The irony of good customer service is that over time it will bring in more new customers than promotions and price slashing ever did!
TELECOMMUNICATIONS regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, has ordered MTN Nigeria to collapse the rates for its on-net and off-net voice services, which it said has a 300 per cent differential with effect from today, May 1.
The NCC, in a report titled, ‘Determination of dominance in selected communications markets in Nigeria,” signed by Mr. Eugene Juwah, Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, said it plans to make a determination of pricing principle to address the rates charged for on-net and off-net voice calls for all other operators, to manage dominance in the market.
The NCC also disclosed that competition in the Nigerian mobile voice market is not highly competitive, and using what it called the HHI, said MTN with 44 percent of the market share has emerged the dominant operator in the mobile voice segment.
According to Juwah, an industry review showed phone calls between MTN customers cost three times lower than calls to other networks, indicative of the likely establishment of a calling club for MTN subscribers.
Juwah said, “As a result of the determination outlined above, the Commission has resolved to immediately enforce and implement accounting separation on the dominant operator; ensure that the differential between the on-net and off-net retail tariffs will immediately collapsed, while the tariff for on-net and off-net will be the same and subject to periodic review.
Continuing, in the wholesale Leased Lines and Transmission Capacity market, which are in the upstream segment of the telecoms market, the NCC said the dominant operators, MTN and Glo jointly control 62 per cent of the market, and they shall be required to adhere to the following obligations as the Commission will come up with a price cap for wholesale services and price floor for retail services, and subject to periodic review.
“The Commission may require the dominant operator to submit details on specific aspects of its operations from time as the need arises.”
“The Commission will immediately enforce and implement account separation on the joint dominant operators.
“The commission may require any of the joint dominant operators to submit details on specific aspects of its operations from time to time as the need arises.
“The determination shall take effect from 1st May 2013 and remain valid and binding on Licenses for the services specified in relevant market segments of the section, until further reviewed by the Commission.”
NCC said there are about 113 million mobile phone subscribers at the end of 2012, with MTN Nigeria leading with 47 million lines.
Globacom followed with 24 million users, Bharti Airtel had 23 million customers while Etisalat, had 14 million.
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The Telecoms sector is one of the fastest growing sector of the Nigerian economy since the deregulation of the mobile phone market over a decade ago. Many network providers were skeptical at first to enter the Nigerian market, because it was virgin and democracy was nascent in Nigeria, many of the companies who dared to enter the market have not regretted it since then as many of them have made loads of profit in the sector. Today, the Nigerian telecoms market is a hot market to potential investors.
The use of cell-phones over the years has soared, and have mostly replaced the unreliable services of the Nigerian Telecommunications Limited (NITEL). This fast growth has deepened competition and regulations by the Nigerian communications commission (NCC) has caused a steady drop of costs of the service and a general improvement of service in the sector, although Nigeria still ranks high in cost of GSM tariff and telecoms in the world index.
However it just got better, the Nigerian customer can now switch to a preferred service provider while still retaining mobile number, no inhibitions. This fianlly places the Nigerian customer as king in this service sector, customer satisfaction should be the utimate goal of any network in Nigeria today hoping to make profit.
We would be following how porting will eventually shape customer behavior and service providers in the near future.
Follow this blog for more on Nigerian customer and the telecoms sector.
- Hafez Ayetoro “PORTS” From Etisalat To MTN (mojidanisa2.wordpress.com)
- Nigeria Phone Rule Toughens Turf Battle for MTN, Airtel – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Airtel declares readiness for number portability (vanguardngr.com)
- Implementation of Nigerian Content retains $380bn capital (transformationwatch.com)
Why a need for a blog like this?
“The customer is always right” is a famous business slogan. The underlying truth behind this statement is recognizing that customers are the life blood for any business. Understanding the importance of good customer service is essential for a healthy business in creating new customers, keeping loyal customers, and developing referrals for future customers.
In Nigeria today, there are tons of businesses providing goods and services in return for money, rating these goods and services from the Nigerian customers has become very imperative, considering a growing culture of poor customer service and relations by businesses in Nigeria. The culture of excellent customer service and products is yet to be popular in the Nigerian market today, a platform like this will catalyze a process towards excellence. We are creating an online community-based rankings of good (and bad) customer service in Nigeria, this will enable real time analysis of Nigerian customer satisfaction issues.
We at customerNG believe that “it’s a free market and you the customer, says who is and stays market king”. There are several ways this project is useful and we will be revealing them from post to post.
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