As it appeared in the daily nation of June 2nd 2015
Sub-standard service is commonplace in majority of businesses. A doctor, a lawyer, an airline will keep us waiting without an apology. A retailer will sell a poor quality product and not be ready to replace it. A restaurant may not go out of its way to provide a special requirement not on their menu. A drycleaner will misplace our button and think we are not telling the truth. A public officer will not call us back as promised. A bank will not respond to our email request on time forcing us to call or visit in person. The list is endless. In many such instances, we have become used to the mediocre service; it has in fact almost become normal and acceptable.
Have you ever noticed that very often organizations or people that provide such a sub-standard service have someone or something to blame or an excuse to make? The lawyer will blame the court for the delay, the doctor will blame the traffic jam and a waiter will blame the chef. A retailer will blame the supplier and the drycleaner will blame us for having not tightened the buttons or even blame the buttons. The organization that does not call us back and does not respond to our emails may simply say that they are too busy or even blame us for having high expectations. This reminds me of what Jim Rohn once said “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse”. Most people find an excuse for providing poor service.
The major excuses that most organizations make centres around their staff. They blame them for not being fully committed, for having the wrong attitude, for ignoring the customers’ needs, for not having the right skills and the list goes on. Others blame their customers. They say that their customers are too demanding, not understanding, not ready to listen, not forgiving and the list too goes on. Are these organizations looking for ways to provide better services or are the too many excuses distracting them? Do they really want to do something about the mediocre service they provide?
Fortunately though, smart organizations know that if they want to provide good service they have to be intentional about their people. They need to recruit people with the right attitude, build their skills and keep them engaged. They also need to create the right environment, provide the resources needed, offer the policy guidelines and be clear about the procedures to be followed in both service provision and in dealing with a dissatisfied customer. They also know that they have a major responsibility in establishing a good relationship with their customers and in building their customer’s trust. They recognize that this starts with understanding what the customer really needs. They appreciate both the functional and emotional needs of their customers and staff. They know that they like to be to be listened to, to be understood, to be valued and so on. They do not have mere excuses when things go wrong. They take negative feedback positively, explain the cause and use the feedback as an opportunity to learn and to get better. Most importantly they address service gaps before they become causes of dissatisfaction.
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer and can be reached on firstname.lastname@example.org/old or via twitter @kiruthulucy