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CUSTOMER SERVICE

An employee relations barometer!

Some people are born to shop! I am not one of them, especially at Christmas time! Unfortunately, for some of us there are certain things that just have to be done regardless of one’s personal preferences – so it was off to the Mall and into the crowds!

This year I was struck by what a difference good customer service makes. When you enter some stores, the staff greet you with a smile and ask how they can help you (Not “Can I Help you?”which can result in a flat “No”).

If you indicate that you just want to browse, they leave you alone but seem to miraculously appear if you have a query. They know their products and prices and give good advice as to the best buys available.

Most importantly, these staff seem to enjoy what they are doing and appear genuinely pleased to be of service to their customers. Being the sucker that I am, when I encounter that sort of service, I invariably buy more than I intended!

On the other hand in far too many stores, if you are lucky enough to find a salesperson, they are disinterested and unhelpful. They do not know the prices, what is available or where to find items. In a few instances they are downright rude!

No prizes for guessing which stores one goes back to and which are the busiest!

Whether you are in retail, catering or heavy manufacturing, no business in this day and age can prosper unless it focuses on delivering a consistently high standard of customer service. Yet so many frontline people in businesses do not seem to realise this or, worse still, they simply do not care!

Builders destroy your garden and have to be called back repeatedly to complete
their work properly. People promise to return calls and never do. Bosses complain
about their workers but consistently put up with unsatisfactory work performance. The list goes on.

The truth is that in South Africa today, customer service in far too many businesses is simply not good enough!  If we are to become a winning nation, this has to change.

However, one of the things employers need to realise is that good customer relations are intrinsically linked to good employee relations. If employees have grievances or feel indifferent towards their bosses and their employer, their negative attitude will be reflected in the way they do their work and in how customers are treated.

On the other hand, a positive working climate generated by good management practices invariably not only leads to improved efficiency but good customer service and relations as well.

This starts with managers and supervisors taking the trouble to get to know their subordinates!

The following list of questions taken from our course – Motivating a Work Team, is a good starting point for any manager or supervisor who is genuine about improving relationships.

 QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO ANSWER ABOUT YOUR SUBORDINATES

  1. What is the person’s first name?
  2. What is his/her surname?
  3. What name does he/she like to be called by and why?
  4. What is his/her marital status?
  5. What is his/her spouse / life partner’s name?
  6. Does he/she have children?
  7. What are their names and ages?
  8. Does he/she have a settled home life?
  9. Where does he/she live and how does he/she get to work?
  10. How long does it take him/her to get to work?
  11. Is there anything he/she is ‘touchy’ about (i.e. doesn’t like to talk about)?
  12. What are his/her favourite subjects (likes to talk about)?
  13. Does he/she play or follow sport? If so, what sport?
  14. Does he/she have any hobbies or special interests?
  15. When did he/she join your organisation?
  16. How long has he/she been in his/her present position?
  17. Where did he/she work before?
  18. Does he/she have any achievements he/she is proud of?
  19. What work experience has he/she had before taking his/her present position?
  20. What are his/her ambitions / future plans?

In conclusion, remember to make time for your subordinates when they need you, lest they have no time for you when you need them!

BRUNO BRUNIQUEL

Bruniquel & Associates

For more information please click here.