I want to start a revolution. I believe the time has come for citizens to rise up and demand more. It’s time for a better quality of life – for the people, by the people. This revolution will give rise to greater satisfaction for everyone and create fortunes for those in its vanguard.
Before someone tips off the authorities, let me clarify. I’m not talking about a political movement but a radical change nonetheless. We need a seismic shift in customer service standards and I am prepared to lead the charge. Like most aspects of life in Nigeria, poor customer service is accepted as something to be borne stoically with very little complaint. Occasionally, this simmering pot of silent suffering boils over into the shouting you hear at airline counters and in banking halls all over the country. However, most of the time there is an eerie silence that makes you wonder if you’re the only one to notice the slights, inconveniences and blatant disregard for your patronage. In other developing countries, like South Africa and Jamaica, standards are much higher but there are still pockets of resistance that blight the customer experience, especially when the customers are from the lower classes and lacking in influence.
If you’ve been following this blog, you will know that I like to highlight challenging situations; not by way of complaint, but by proferring solutions or suggesting a way forward. Therefore, it will come as no surprise that I decided to write a book about how businesses can offer a much better customer service experience – and profit massively from it. The More3 Formula offers budding entrepreneurs and established business owners a tried and tested method of improving their products and services, delighting their customers and reaping the rich rewards that come from offering what I call ‘superior customer service’. Over the coming months, I will be spreading this gospel across Nigeria, the Caribbean, US and UK.
This type of action could spark a revolution but it’s hardly likely to keep the fires burning, long after the book launches have faded in the memory and enthusiasm wanes in the face of apathy. The real difference will be made by ordinary consumers raising their expectations, becoming more vigilant and demanding to be treated with respect; a point I raised in an earlier post, ‘Expect More‘. To understand the level of customer care on offer in the UK, for example, you would have to be aware of the thousands of letters, emails, tweets, online posts and telephone calls that besiege each offending organisation. In certain industries, such as utilities, airlines and financial services, the complaints will flood the regulators’ offices, forcing them to investigate any alleged breach and respond accordingly. The media plays its part too, highlighting the most serious cases that affect large numbers of people. This can be extremely effective because negative publicity is always bad for business.
Let me clear up one thing before I go any further – being polite and offering apologies has nothing to do with superior customer service. It’s all about satisfaction – getting what you want, when you want it, in a manner that meets or surpasses your expectations. There’s nothing more annoying than getting a grovelling apology from a waiter or shop assistant, telling you how sorry they are for not being able to fulfill your order on the sixth or seventh occasion. Someone has trained those here in Calabar to believe that repeating, “We’re very, very sorry, sir,” several times will make your frustration and disappointment less bitter. What nonsense. The measure of true customer service is extremely satisfied clients who recommend the provider to their friends and family.
If you are sceptical that your individual effort could make a difference, let me reassure you. I tend to improve some aspect of customer service, wherever I spend my money, if I’m not satisfied. I will point out the misdemeanour politely but firmly and ask for it to be corrected. Sometimes, I will ask for the manager to attend and, occasionally, I’ve been known to call an owner or two to let them know that their investment is being threatened by poor service. You would be surprised at how many owners and senior managers are grateful for being alerted to these issues.
I would like to leave you with the words of a quiet revolutionary who led one of the world’s most populous nations to independence, guided by a philosophy of non-violent resistance and a deep conviction that his people deserved better. Although his was a political movement, he felt that it was important for his followers to understand how fundamental good customer service was to their progress. Like him, I believe that quiet revolutions are the best route to progress because the battle can lead to winners on all sides. I hope you will join me.
“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises, he is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi, Indian leader and activist
‘The More3 Formula: More clients x More sales x More money’ is out now on Amazon.com for just $4.99. If you don’t have a business or business idea but would like to see a friend or relative succeed, you can buy a copy for them as a gift. Click here to purchase.
The book is available as a Kindle download for any device – perfect for readers outside of the US, Canada and Europe where Amazon deliveries are not the norm. The Kindle app is free on iPad, Android and other platforms. Paperback version to follow in April 2016. For details on launch events in Nigeria, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
* image credit: http://www.customer-obsessed.com