As it appeared in the Daily Nation on Oct 11th 2016
The Customer Service Celebrations got a notch higher last week. This year, many organizations joined in the bandwagon. In several offices and banks, the few customers who still visit were received not only with smiles but also with goodies and in some cases little surprises like the shoe shining at KCB. The smiles on the customers were evident. As this was happening, a lot more interactions were going on online. Except for the goodies and surprises which are yet to go digital; everything else was in plenty online. The #CSWeek2016 photo moments posted online were colourful and in some cases hilarious. The staff seemed to have lots of fun especially in the dressing, in the eating and in the photography. Customer service week has become a flagship ‘event’ for the customer service community in Kenya and across the globe.
As I witnessed some of the activities, I wondered why we do not dress that smartly in matching colours every week or why we do not give the goodies more often and share the smiles all the time. More importantly, I wondered what next after the CS week. Is this week business as usual or business unusual? Has there been a ripple effect? Are the executives still engaging or are they back in their corner offices having forgotten about the rising customers’ expectations? Will the front office remain as bright as it was last week? How long will the positive vibes amongst staff stay? Was the customer service week just an event that will fade away or part of a process to get better at serving customers?
Customer service week presents an opportunity for organizations to raise their service standards and improve their end-to-end customer experience. I believe that participating in the celebrations can be value adding. Beyond the goodies, the smiles and the dressing some organizations see the week as a platform to focus deeper into the DNA of the organization’s culture and make some long lasting adjustments. Such organizations know too well that sustainable service excellence is not a series of disjointed events but a continuous process to entrench service excellence as a way of life 365 days in a year. Unless organizations have a leadership committed and supportive of the process and a team fully engaged, CS week activities have the risk of becoming a once off PR gimmick. It is interesting to note that while the celebrations were going on, many other organizations gave CS week a total blackout. In their failure to go an extra mile, some went to the extent of stating that they celebrate their customers every day and there was no need for a special week.
My wish as a customer is one; that every week would feel like a customer service week. This is only possible if organizations become intentional about serving their customers every day and listening to them a little more. What happens during the 51 other weeks is what will firmly cement or completely erase the memorable moments experienced during the customer service week. By focusing on their staff and the customers holistically, organizations can make service excellence their way of life every day. In conclusion, a focus on the customer all year round is the surest strategic tool to differentiate your organization.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer, one can reach her via twitter @KiruthuLucy