As it appeared in the Daily Nation on Nov 1sth 2016
Happy New Month! I expect that this new month will be even better than the last one. Last month was abuzz with customer service week activities. Many photos were shared online during the first week of October. However, a photo that was shared in the last week of October stood out and caught the attention of many. I had been away from twitter for a little while and when I logged back in there were loads of notifications tagging me to the photo. It was a photo of a Safaricom staff kneeling down as she served a customer on a normal day. The Kenyan online community was animated by the act that many considered that of a customer service hero.
We learnt that the staff on the photo was Pauline at the Safaricom customer care centre in Nakuru. It was evident that she was not just doing her job but was putting in some extra effort. She was not kneeling because it is the norm for women to kneel; she was going an extra mile on her knees! I decided to call her and get some insights that would inspire others. We spoke briefly on Thursday and I applauded her for her incredible heart of service. Pauline seemed overwhelmed by the attention that the photo had grabbed. She indicated that she had received many calls especially from her company’s headquarters regarding the same.
Why did Pauline choose to kneel? Did she have to kneel? How did that make the customer feel? How did it make her feel? These questions crossed the minds of many that saw her photo. Even though everyone who interacts with customers in the frontline needs to be ready to serve different kinds of customers many are not. No wonder Pauline stood out. Children, pregnant women, the elderly and customers with special needs are particularly a unique group of customers requiring extraordinary attention. Such extra compassion is only possible if we have a heart of service and if we put ourselves in the customer’s shoes. I have no doubt about Pauline’s feeling of compassion, which in turn must have made the customer feel wanted, important and appreciated by Pauline and by the brand she represents.
Early in my customer service career, I learnt the importance of being at the same eye level when having a conversation. I learnt that for children squat or lift them up to get as close to their eye level as possible. I also learnt that if someone finds you sitting in the office stand up for the greeting or quick chat or request them to have a seat. In addition to these lessons, it is important to reflect on any other challenge that our customers may face while trying to access our services. A while back, a Matatu crew along Waiyaki way that goes an extra mile to assist customers living with disabilities brought to light another honourable act.
Although Pauline’s act of service and those of many others going an extra mile may not catch the eyes of the bloggers or trend online for days, their acts touch many. When this happens to a customer, they have an outstanding story to tell. Pauline has indeed been an epitome of a heart of service in the last few days. These two last months of the year have the highest level of customer interactions, may we find opportunities to go that extra mile as we applaud Pauline.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy