The customer service week has come and gone but I did observe something all through the week from many businesses especially the banks. Many of them were kind enough to send series of emails and text messages as they are always quick to do around the festive periods or when something major is happening in the country. At some point when I got bombarded with emails and text messages I started having a rethink as to how customer service could have been mistaken for what, at best, could be called Public Relations. We need to see clearly that Customer Service and Public Relations are two different things and I think that some businesses are beginning to do more of PR rather than truly serving their customers.
When I get the emails from the banks, they always come in very nice graphics or appealing words and you almost want to stay with the message even when you are done reading. I can tell that much thought has been given to the mails and they must have gone through series of levels before getting to that stage where they are allowed to go out to the customers. I can imagine the workers or the people in the department handling the mails thinking that all their customers will feel good to get the mails. ‘At least it shows their banks have them in mind,’ they probably would say. There is nothing wrong with those nice emails and text messages but there are other things that make them meaningful.
The emails are the text messages are truly not bad but where they become a real issue is that people go to the banks and what they get is different from the tone of the messages that they see in emails or text messages. Severally I have been in the banks to talk about one issue or the other and the person in charge says, ‘there is nothing I can do. I am sorry.’ To say that there is nothing you can do is one of the most annoying statements that customers never want to hear. And to make matters worse, after a staff in the local branch has just said there is nothing he or she can do to something a customer considers critical, a message comes in from the head quarters of the branch trying to use nice words.
On some occasions, I have seen very long queues of people waiting to use the ATM at banks. Sometimes there would be more than 3 ATM machines on the same spot and only one might be working. When you tell the security to talk to the people in the banking hall to load the other machines with money, some of them just explode! Sometimes they tell you it is not there job. It is even worse when you see people wearing IDs of the bank – meaning they work in the bank – and you think they should be able to help. You walk up to such people and tell them to look at how many people are waiting to cash money but they just tell you okay and they walk away! Customers line up in the sun for several hours to use the only ATM that is working in a place where there may be up to 5 ATMs.
I can’t go on about the many other annoying things that these bankers do and how some of them talk rudely to their customers yet we get nice emails and text messages from them. I only need them to get things right and fix their issues rather than spending several hours working on emails or touching up their brands while their services are not improving. You cannot convince a customer that you have a great customer service by merely using PR tools – creating great commercials and repeating them well enough to be on everyone’s lips, regular newsletters and a monthly or annual report.
It is called customer service and it is really about SERVING the customer not brainwashing the customer. Review your customer service today, in whatever business your are doing, and fix anything that needs to be fixed. On the long run, great customer service becomes profitable for you!
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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