By Allwell Nwankwo
Cherry (not her real name) works for a foremost Nigerian stock broking firm as a contract marketing staff. She is usually a charming person, but she easily gives away her dissatisfaction with the terms of her employment. She doesn’t hide the fact that she is ready to change jobs and will not hesitate to press her customers into her job search.
Although most of her customers might view her as a nice person, Cherry shocked one of them recently by the way she spoke to him on the phone. The customer had initiated the call to give her an instruction to buy some shares. Let’s listen in on the conversation.
Customer: Hello, Cherry. It’s been a long time. You don’t even bother to call your customers. What’s really happening?
Cherry: Oga, it’s actually not my job to call you. It is for the relationship guys to call you. Once I get customers, I hand over to them. And I know they have been sending you emails.
Customer: (shocked) But you are the person I know. I have never met any of the so-called relationship officers. Anyway, what about the annual report and accounts I requested that you send me more than two months ago? You never got back to me.
Cherry: Oh. Sorry about that. I told my boss about your request. He should have got back to you. Actually, I’m at a client’s place at the moment. Call me back later. Customer: Hmmmmmm. Why don’t you call me when you’re through with your client?
Cherry: Oga, I cannot use the little money I have to call you. I mean, I need to pay for my transport fares and other things. I cannot be calling customers with the little money I get.
True to her stand, Cherry never called the customer. The fact that she was dealing with a longstanding customer didn’t make any difference. As incredible as this encounter sounds, I want to assure you that it actually happened! The customer had done business with Cherry for over one year and had helped her sign on some of his friends as customers. He was so bewildered that he made up his mind never to deal with Cherry and her organisation again.
Whatever may have been the cause of Cherry’s uncaring attitude to a customer, a few points stick out. Cherry isn’t happy with her organisation. She has no sense of loyalty to both the organisation and her customers. She doesn’t understand her role as a marketing officer. She clearly believes her job is done as soon as an individual agrees to become a customer. She underestimates the power of excellent customer relations.
Although a number of committed sales people would spend their personal money to keep customers happy, some other ones (like Cherry) would not spend a dime of theirs in the service of a customer. People like Cherry have an attitude problem. They are so unhappy with their work that they never bother to give their customers a call – even when the call might result in a sale on which they would earn a commission.
To be fair, part of the blame ought to go to her organisation. The company may have very rigid policies that tend to emasculate people on the frontline. It may have goofed in putting its reputation in the hands of people like Cherry.
We have noted in a previous write-up that it is somewhat risky to put “contract” employees on the frontline for the simple reason that they don’t see themselves as part of the organisation.
Ironically, such employees are usually poorly paid and poorly trained since the organisation hardly sees them as their employees. But they still represent the organisation and it must bear the consequences of such representation.
There is no telling the number of customers that have been lost owing to the uncaring attitude of some disgruntled employee. You need to watch out for employees that keep complaining about their condition of service.
You can be sure they won’t deliver excellent service. And they most likely will complain to your customers. In the final analysis, unless you make your employees happy, they are not likely to make your customers happy.