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The traditional mad holiday rush is upon us and businesses – especially those in retail – need to ensure that a high level of service delivery is maintained and that they are geared to handle the additional enquiries driven by the sudden upsurge in customers.
This is according to Sumesh Rahavendra, head of marketing for DHL Express sub-Saharan Africa, who says that the holiday season puts added pressure on businesses to deliver consistent service quality, and, if not managed correctly, could consume valuable time that could have been spent on maximising sales.
Rahavendra points to recent findings from the business consulting firm Lee Resources, which indicated that one of the main reasons for customer unhappiness is bad service delivery. Findings also indicated that 91% of unhappy customers will also not willingly make use of the service provider again. He says that to ensure a positive customer experience with a brand, a robust customer service platform is needed. “Not only will this ensure that customer needs are met across all touch points but it will also empower brand representatives to be able to deal with difficult situations, in an effective manner.”
Rahavendra points to a few key tips to enhance the customer service experience during the busy holiday period:
1. Make sure that your employees are emotionally engaged
The festive season is not only stressful for consumers, but also for the employees who are providing the service. An employee who simply smiles at a customer (face-to-face or even while interacting telephonically) can have a significant impact on the customer’s perception of their experience. This is especially important for businesses that have sizeable contact centres – a customer should receive friendly and consistent service quality, irrespective of the representative that they are dealing with.
2. Embrace new media
With the rise of social media, the customer service experience can either be amplified or hindered. Businesses should ensure they have allocated sufficient time and resources to ensure that social media channels are monitored throughout the day and response times and query resolutions should be closely managed. Should a negative issue arise, where possible, the query should be dealt with offline and with the client directly. All social queries should however be acknowledged online.
A number of brands choose to disable posts to their Facebook pages as there is no control as to what is posted. We believe in transparency and immediate feedback, so the only content that would be removed is defamatory or explicit content. Having an active social media presence is a fantastic way to keep in touch with customers, in real-time, as they spend much of their time online. It keeps the lines of communication open and is, most importantly, convenient for customers to make contact with your brand.
3. Transparent escalation procedures
As the end of the year nears, it adds pressure to the turn-around time expected for query resolution. Customers should be able to access various escalation channels easily. In a traditional bricks and mortar retail space, senior and empowered managers should be on the floor at all times to diffuse difficult situations immediately. In the online or corporate space, access to senior managers should be clearly defined so that customers do not have the added frustration of trying to track down someone who can assist them.
For example, we introduced a best-in-class feature to our website which we refer to as Straight to the Top (STTT) – this allows the customer to have access to the whole DHL Express senior management team up to and including the Africa regional team that is the Africa Management Board. It’s all about accessibility and speed of query resolutions.
“Being insanely customer-centric is our mantra as we believe that a customer’s experience and perception of a brand has significant influence, not only on whether they will become a loyal, repeat customer, but also on how they promote the company to other potential customers. Great service quality therefore plays a significant role in a business’s bottom line,” says Rahavendra.