The Sunday Mail
The front office personnel are the windows of the organisation used by customers to peep through into the operations of the business. Whatever reception that they give to the visiting customer reflects one part of the organisation’s story.
The story does not end there, but it is further developed by all the employees that will have direct interaction with the customer. The way these employees behave around the customer is worthy to note as it will give certain impressions about the organisation as a whole and can determine the future relationship between the organisation and the customer.
Close your eyes and take your imagination trip into a world without technology, travelling into that world where everything must be done manually and involves physical labour.
How many of us could survive in that mundane world and still want to remain there? For those who have been priviledged to taste both worlds, I bet they will gladly choose to stay in the modern world where almost everything is done at a click of a button and without breaking a sweat. Thanks to the evolving technology which is making tasks easier and bringing the world home.
Cellphones are the IT thing in the communication world today. If one is to take a random survey today, you will discover that almost every adult owns a cellphone or have at least owned one once and even our folks who can neither read nor write have cellphones to communicate with their loved ones.
This gadget has bridged the distance barrier by making communication with anyone, anywhere, anytime possible and easier despite the distance.
Customer service employees are no exception to owning and using cellphones but the big question is: is it appropriate for employees that have direct interaction with customers to use their personal cellphones while on duty, especially when they are serving customers?
Recently, a friend visited a popular pharmacy in Harare’s First Street and endured an unpleasant customer experience from the sales lady who was on the serving counter. The lady could not keep her hands off her cellphone while customers were waiting for her to serve them.
She could have been gaming, surfing the internet or even enjoying the social media sites. One can only guess, what she was up to on that phone. This is not bad at all if only it is done at the appropriate times, but is of great annoyance when it is done in the presence of waiting customers.
This is one incident but there are a million or so incidences that many customers have experienced in different organisations where company personnel would opt to first deal with their cellphones before attending to waiting clients.
Remember the client or customer is not just a customer but he or she is the one that pays the bills and salaries for the organisation through the business they bring in.
Employees from different sectors of the industry are guilty of this behaviour and these range from bank personnel to critical sectors like hospitals where some nurses would rather chat on WhatsApp at the expense of ailing patients. In some extreme cases, some would even choose to take gruesome pictures and videos at accident scenes instead of offering a helping hand.
There is nothing as irritating to a customer than a customer service consultant who prioritise their personal cellphone conversation over the customer’s worth and time. If truth be told, such employees will be stealing the organisation’s time while pretending to be serving customers.
Most Zimbabwean companies seem not to be too strict when it comes to cellphone use during business hours and this laxity has always caused customer dissatisfaction. In some cases some will even use the traditional landlines to make personal calls while customers are waiting and this is usually common in Government institutions.
Such behaviour is a minus when it comes to good customer service.
Nonetheless, I have observed shop floor employees at big retail and fast food outlets like OK and Chicken Inn, they never use their cellphones while in the shops. Kudos to their cellphone policy. This is a positive as it allows them to concentrate on their jobs and that is to serve every customer without the hindrance of a cellphone.
Customers require full attention when they are being served. Use of cellphones for purposes other than business purposes by an organisation representative whilst interacting with a customer shows disrespect at the highest level.
Multi-tasking with a cellphone can make one lose concentration and is always a distraction which affects the way one discharges a service to a waiting customer. It is a habit that will only give both the employee and the organisation a negative perception and if it is not dealt with will only give rival organisations ammunition to attack and excel in good customer service.
The use of a cellphone whilst a customer is waiting to be served can also be a sign of lack of interest in the job and in all fairness if one is not interested in serving customers then they should not be in that job in the first place.
Customers do not visit organisations so that they can experience moody attitudes, or read between the lines of certain behaviours by employees. They come for mutual business transactions which should be done professionally and timeously.
While I appreciate that communication is essential in making the exchange of ideas and information more efficient in the business world, all organisations should have a personal cellphone policy.
This policy should be able to limit accessibility to personal phones during working hours and concentrate on productivity. Accessibility to cellphones or personal calls should be done during tea or lunch breaks or any other break that is away from the customer vicinity.
Employee behaviour must mirror the organisation’s beliefs!
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461