By Allwell Nwankwo

Let me to begin this write-up by wishing you a (belated?) Happy New Year!  I wish all our readers a wonderful year.  I must also thank those who have kept faith with this column, especially those who have found time to send feedback on the issues discussed here.

Once again, it’s that time of the year when people make resolutions and renew their commitment to certain things they hold dear.

For us here, one of the things we hold dear is, of course, excellence in serving the customer.  We’re totally committed to offering you tips to help you improve customer experience in your organization and, thereby, improve profit.

Hence, in our next three write-ups, we shall consider a few things you may wish to do a bit differently to improve customer experience.

It’s a sort of 2014 agenda for you. Going through the write-ups, you’d probably think that we’re addressing decision-makers only.  I think everyone whose work touches on customer experience will, most likely, find our advice useful.

Customer Focus

There’s no doubt that “customer focus” is a corporate mantra that has gained much currency since the 1980s.  It manifests in expressions such as “the customer is the king,” “the customer is always right,” “the customer is our greatest asset,” and so on.

Indeed, it is politically correct to talk about customer focus.  If you wish to confirm this, you may randomly scan through the mission statements of some Nigerian companies.  Many of them have something to say about their commitment to offering superior products and services to customers.  After all, customers are the reason every organization is in business.

But beyond the great mission statements, what happens in reality?

Customer focus means that you put the customer first. It means that the business is built around the needs of the customer.  It means less red tape and more service.  It means that everybody in the organization considers serving the customer as number one job.

After all, the customer is the business – to borrow that gnomic expression from Liz Jackson and Mick Spain (used in their book for entrepreneurs, Start Up!)  Please note that we’re talking about customer (not prospect) focus.  Too many of us are so obsessed with pursuing prospects that we ignore current customers.

How do you get everybody to focus on the customer?  One way is to launch service improvement initiatives, but you need to realize that little improvements here and there will have a greater long-term impact than some fancy, flash-in-the-pan projects.

Lead by example. Don’t just preach customer focus. Do it!

To put the spotlight on customers, some organizations participate in the Customer Service Week (CSW), usually celebrated in the first full week in October each year.

Ever since the International Customer Service Association (ICSA) in 1988 came up with the idea of a CSW, the event has gained acceptance across the globe.  In 1992, even the US Congress formally recognized it as a national celebration.

The CSW is usually a great time to put customer experience issues on the front-burner, raise company-wide awareness on such matters and reward outstanding performers. It could be both serious and fun.

But, wait a minute…October is still far off!  Who says you can’t celebrate yours earlier? It may be smart to make every interaction with the customer a celebration of sorts by making them feel welcome. Let’s celebrate our own customer service week every day!

To be continued

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.