Service Experience


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Is Retail in motion?

retail customer

Source: bplans.com

For those following the retail space, it is no news that many big retail businesses are either shrinking operations or shutting their doors across the globe. For others, it may be a surprise that their favourite stores – such as Guess Inc, Abercrombie & Fitch Co,  J.C.Penney Co, BCBG MAx Azaria Global holdings, American Apparel, The Limited, Sears Holdings Corp, Macy, hhgregg and Crocs – have closed over 1200 stores within the last few months.

Yet, retail businesses  like  Amazon and Alibaba,are waxing stronger and expanding their networks.

Why ? Is it that they have more capital? or could it be dedicated staff?

The reality is that the retail space is evolving along with the emergence of digital technologies and its influence on consumer behaviour. Today, an increasing number of retail consumers want their needs met in their comfort zone. The marketplace has gone online!

So, what do you need to do?

  • Join an Online market place: With just a click, consumers can almost buy everything they need online – from groceries to household appliances and equipment. They can also, have in-store pick up following online sales.
  • Have a Mobile-friendly website: Gone are the days when consumers can only access internet on PCs or desktops. With a smartphone, potential and returning customers can buy and make payment from anywhere in the world.
  • Consider a Mobile App: With an app, a consumer  has access to timely updates on a store’s activities as it relates to its product/service offerings. Also, the customer’s experience can be customized based on the search history.

 Don’t get left behind…it is time step up to the tides as retail moves on.

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Customer Service Lines- for what purpose?

credits: rethinkstaff.com

I had an issue with a utility bill received from a public agency and thought to resolve via their customer service center rather than facing traffic and burning my  fuel to their office.

For every attempt I made to dial each of the ten (10) lines printed on the bill, all I got was automated voice messages  saying, “the number you are trying to reach is  not available” and “the number you are trying to reach is switched off”. Since I could not reach them, I had to set out on this undesirable journey.

Luckily, I didn’t meet a crowd when I arrived at their office. While waiting for my turn to be attended to, I looked around the office and  saw a number written on strips of paper pasted on the walls in the office tagged as “our customer service line”. This was quite surprising!

I could not but wonder,”Of what importance is a service line if it is only written on the walls of a service provider’s office and not on the bills distributed across the state?”

Lessons learnt?

For every business that has its customers’ interests at heart, please note that:

  • Setting up a customer service center goes beyond the provision of the facility. It has to be operational – i.e. available and able to resolve customers’ queries.
  • Non-functional lines should  be disconnected and removed from customer information.
  • If lines were assigned to dedicated customer service personnel,  they should be  held accountable for its availability at least during the working hours.
  • Customer Service lines should always be answered. On no account should you leave your calls unanswered especially if you are there. Always return all missed calls, you call never tell. It could be an emergency.
  • Don’t sound irritated, flustered or disturbed when answering a call. It sends a wrong message to the customer.
  • Proffer solutions and reassure every customer of your business’ commitment to meeting their needs as its relates to goods and/services you provide.

Always remember, customer service centers are set up to create and maintain a budding relationship with your customers.

Yours in Service,

Anu Onasanya


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Oh! My Arik Air!

It is no news that the largest national air carrier has been taken over by Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), their activities were grounded for a short while and tales of their poor services trailed the news sphere.

… there is one great service experience that I had with airline that is deeply etched in my mind and I would never forget in an hurry. Please crucify me but an excellent service must never be overlooked.

A couple of years ago, while on our honeymoon cross country trip, my husband and I wore our branded T-shirts and boarded a Port-Harcourt bound flight. While the hostesses were on their in-flight catering service duty, one of the hostess asked causually, if we were newly-married? In response, I blushed while my hubby just nodded.

We thought that was it till we started to get  preferential treatment and a personal congratulations from the pilot. To crown it all, when the  plane landed, almost all the passengers came to wish us well. It was indeed a heart-warming experience for us and Arik Air won our hearts.

So, what are the key lessons for Business owners or Customer Service Officers?

  •  Be Observant: Whether you are the business owner or client service personnel, be on a look out for opportunities to celebrate special moments with your customers. It shows that you care about them.
  • Take Action: When you go the extra mile, the customer’s loyalty is won with minimal efforts.
  • Be the Connecting Point: It is very interesting how customers bond on the shop floor effortlessly. Stand on the aisle for a minute, you would either see a customer asking another to confirm the price of an item or sharing a perception of the store with another customer. I bet you at this time, they put forward a word of mouth on your behalf.
  • Be Sincere: A sincere effort goes farther than you can ever imagine! So, whatever little attempt you make, please do with all your heart,you never can tell…

I leave you with the words of Chip Bell, which says, “Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you.”

Yours in Service

Anu Onasanya


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Don’t drive that branded vehicle,if…

Image result for maryland lagos traffic

Credits: thesheetng.com

Here is a candid message to every company staff that drives a branded official vehicle. Drivers, Salesmen, Managers …anyone:

“Please return the keys of that branded car to your company, if you can’t be a brand ambassador”. I mean it!

One Sunday Afternoon, with children in my car slowing down for inward ‘service-lane’ bound traffic at Maryland, the bus driver of a major children clothier, almost ran us off the road. Without any apology, rather with insults, he sped off.

Days later, a bus branded with the logo of  children noodles brand, scratched my car while trying to get ahead of me on a road that was narrow. A few minutes later ,  a beer-branded vehicle graciously waited and allowed me turn in ahead of him.

Considering the brands the vehicles represent, one would have thought, the play out of these incidences would have been vice versa.

What are the key lessons ?

  • The actions of anyone driving a branded vehicle impacts on the public perception of that brand.
  • A customer’s brand experience does not end at the sales point, but extends to the streets.
  • A company’s brand image can be enhanced or eroded through the traffic behavior of its drivers.
  • Your outward appearance reflects your company’s image and culture. So, make sure you are always professionally  dressed and groomed at all times.Uniforms should be well tucked in and personal hygiene should be given an utmost attention. Please leave your bathroom slippers/flip flops at home!
  • As the driver of a branded vehicle, your manners in traffic show whether  your company truly esteems customers or is only concerned about their money.
  • Stop hurling insults at other motorists.

I must say, Management decisions also play a major part in this.

During an interview session,  a driver once told me that his company never makes provision for replacement of uniforms for its drivers whether it wears out or is torn. While this company may think it’s saving money in the immediate term,  shabbily-dressed drivers are less likely to act as good brand ambassadors and may act in ways that are more costly to the brand.

Always remember,you are a brand ambassador on wheels!

Yours in Service,

Anu Onasanya


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The Perfect Market Guide!

mile12

Credits: dailypost.ng

I have heard so many stories about how affordable food items are at the popular Mile 12 market in Lagos. So, I planned a shopping visit with a friend on a Saturday morning.

On arrival at the market, two alàbááru (Yoruba word for Porter) started to follow us. Later on, an argument ensued between them on who would carry our goods. After some minutes of shouting and arguing, they agreed to work together. The natural leader between them became our guide while the other was left to carry all the goods we bought and still, they both had to share the bill equally at the end of the day.

How did this happen?

Firstly, the natural leader was multi-lingual. He could speak Yoruba, Hausa, Igbo, one of Akwa-ibom indigenous language fluently. He could communicate with almost everyone that sells in the market.

Secondly, he was courteous. It was almost unbelievable! He was sincere with his greetings, his manner of approach to the older women was respectful, calling them “mama“,to the young women was  endearing while the men was cordial. From one stall to another, he had a touch point. Even with the street urchins, popularly called areaboys, he had a rapport. Everything we bought were taken to a loading point which they guarded for us at almost no cost.

Thirdly, his negotiation skills! We got better bargain on everything we purchased at the market.

And lastly, his closure. Despite the long hours we spent at the market, he never hopped from us to another customer. He started and finished the market rounds with us. Considering what we paid him and his sidekick, it was meager when compared to the service we were provided.

I must say, he left a lasting impression on us. One would have not expected such a wow experience from a local market.


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Hygiene Culture of Growing Businesses

Credits: Nairaland

It is a sunny Monday afternoon and I had a break from work, so, I rushed to the saloon to braid my hair. In the course of making my hair, my hairdresser excused herself to use the ladies – which was a wall beside her shop that had some measure of privacy. Afterwards, she returns without washing her hands to continue my hair.  I cringed inside! Didn’t want to sound rude, I kept mute.

A few minutes later, the apprentice went to same spot to pee. Then,  I resolved in my heart to protest if she returns to my hair without washing her hands. Luckily, she didn’t.

Guess they don’t understand that their body fluids is theirs to keep and not share with me or any other customers!

Who are the ‘they’? These include those that sell retailed sausage roll popularly called gala in traffic, fan- ice trucker, “mai suya” ( skewered meat seller) ,  food/fruit hawkers,  mobile food shops, small saloons and so on.

It is wake up to every Nigerian who buys or receives services from the above-mentioned vendors.

Make a demand to be served right!

How do we go about this?

  • A Saloon owner that has a baby/toddler in her stall, shouldn’t carry out domestic chores with saloon equipment. -Don’t wash plates or baby in the salon sink.
  • The mobile food vendors must have hand sanitisers which they must use before every customer’s order is prepared/served.
  • Provision for wash rooms must be made by Landlords for stalls built within the residential areas.
  • All traffic vendors synonymous to Lagos should be banned and ban should be enforced by law-enforcing agents.

When next you want to buy food/engage a service provider,remember, cleanliness is next to godliness.

 


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You’ve a right to be served right!

Credits: nairaland

I do wonder why the public transport service in Lagos, Nigeria has degenerated to this point. Lagosians without personal vehicles are not animals but humans with the right to be served well!

While waiting to catch a bus, saw a well- dressed woman running to board a bus. The “conductor” kept on urging her to hurry up while the driver impatiently waited a mile away for her. With one leg in and the other of the ground, the driver drove on. Guessed she was used to this scenario,  she managed to hurl herself into the vehicle and get a seat.

If one would probe further, the female passenger is learned and well cultured in her place of work but turns into another person once she gets to the bus stop because of the reality on the roads.

Just some meters away,  another commercial vehicle, popularly called ‘danfo’ broke down and all the passengers sat in without remorse while the conductor pushed the vehicle to start. This attitude showed that it was payback because of the way they’ve been treated.

Where did we miss it in Lagos?  Where is the heart of service?  Why are the customers treated like animals and the bus drivers and conductors like nonentity? Do we need a paradigm shift in public transport sector in Lagos about giving the right service?  Are the customers ready to make a demand for it.

As a passenger, you should never run to catch a danfo. When you flag the bus down,  ensure it stops before you board. Same when you want to alight, notify the driver when he is approaching your bus stop,  and politely request that he stops the vehicle before you step out.

If every passenger in Lagos would take a stand,  the bus drivers and conductors would make necessary adjustments.

Next time you want to board a Danfo,remember you have a right to be served right because you are paying for the service!