Brand Serve Involve To Solve
BY JAGDEEP KAPOOR
There are times when the customer has got himself into trouble due to errors of commission or omission. At times like these, the Customer Service Professional should play the part of rescuer. Participation Customer Service Prescription, ensures that the Customer Service Professional becomes a part of the customer’s solution process and does not remain apart or aloof from the trouble.
A Customer Service Professional should always be ready to take the plunge and help solve a customer’s problems or add joy to a customer’s experience. He should be willing to get involved. Customers like to have Customer Service Professionals solve their problems for them or even participate in their joy as if it were their own.
Sometimes a customer is hesitant to admit that he has a problem. If a perspective Customer Service Professional sees this and unhesitatingly flings himself into the fray, he will earn the customer’s undying gratitude and ensure that the customer’s Brand Experience is pleasant.
Witness guides who take customers on tours to sites of historical or cultural interest. A tour guide who is a good Customer Service Professional is always involved with his customers. He participates in the customer’s joy and when the customer needs help – in filling a form, let’s say – the guide is there to help in whatever way he can and enhance the enjoyment of the Brand Experience. He answers one customer’s questions, helps retrieve another’s misplaced baggage and assists the third to get back to his family on the phone..
The Participative Customer Service Professional never says, “It is not my job”. Instead, with go and gusto, he throws himself into the work on hand and helps the customer overcome barriers and surmount obstacles.
When a hotel chain is strewn all over the country, it is important for the individual hotels to participate in the corporate’s endeavours.
The Taj Mahal Hotel’s Inner Circle is a loyalty programme. All Taj properties must offer the same privileges so that a customer using different hotels at different times has a relatively uniform Brand Experience.
Unfortunately this was not the case. The Chennai Taj, like its Hyderabad counterpart, was found to be an excellent Brand Experience. The same could not be said of the Pune property, which the customer said was “confused”. And Mumbai was, for him, a mixed bag with one Customer Service Professional being kind, considerate and very solutions-oriented and the other, he labeled as “someone who made me want to tear my hair in frustrations”.
Pune was evidently unaware of all the privileges that the Taj’s Inner Circle offered to its members. As a result, the customer was made to feel that the hotel was treating him indifferently and that he was not valued enough.
If it weren’t for the corrective action taken with retrospective effect at the Mumbai end, the customer would have lost all the loyalty points he had earned at the Pune Taj.
Inconsistent Customer Service can be like the Jekyll and Hyde of a brand, providing experiences that are widely disparate.
Another, example again pertaining to India’s premier hotel chain, illustrates the fragile nature of Brand Perceived Value in the mind of the customer. It is driven down by a bad Brand Experience or pushed up to soaring heights by good Brand Experience. The choice is entirely that of the Customer Service Professional.
The case in point: a one-week stay for six at one of the Taj’s Goa properties. The client had not decided which. She called up Reservations to make an enquiry and the first day she encountered a stone wall named Louella.
Property, choice of rooms and other sundry details were yet to come. Price was the point of contention at this point, when the customer innocently asked if it was inclusive of taxes. “I’m coming to that”, Louella snapped back. When she had taken all the details down, she promised to “get back the next day”. But a week later, when she had still not called up, the customer ventured to call Taj Reservations again, mentally prepared for the cryptic ice-maiden who called herself Loella. Imagine her surprise, then, when a warm, welcoming voice at the other end said ‘Taj Reservations, may I help you? My name is Dimple”.
She rattled off her queries once more and suddenly the week-long package that she wanted to make a booking for was the easiest thing in the world. The voice this time was Dimple’s. Dimple answered most of her questions in a flash, promised to look into those she needed some time for. When asked for rooms on the same floor, she said she would try after contacting the Taj Goa. In a few hours she called back to confirm that it would be possible. Dimple was an excellent Customer Service Professional, reflecting the true spirit of the wonderful Taj group of hotels.
Suddenly the holiday in the little land of sun, surf and somnolence reared its head promisingly. Goa beckoned and the holiday was something to look forward to.
At times the Participative Customer Service Professional helps accentuate a customer’s happiness and encourages other customers too to participate in the joy of the moment.
Like the sales engineer, a Customer Service Professional, who takes pride in the sale of a large piece of machinery. He is there when the machinery is installed, sharing the customer’s excitement and joy. He is there to participate with sleeves rolled up on the shop floor when the machine is being installed. And at the inauguration too he is right there, in the thick of the action, taking part in the pilot run beside the proud and beaming owner. Finally, when the button has to be pushed to start commercial production, he is there partaking in that momentous occasion.
To my mind, participative Customer Service is a phenomenon in which the Customer Service Professional behaves like the Customer himself. He gives the customer tremendous support and is appreciated for his involvement.
Copyright © 2005, All rights reserved with Jagdeep Kapoor – Managing Director, Samsika Marketing Consultants Pvt. Ltd.
No part of this document may be modified, reproduced, stored, deleted or introduced in any retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means (Electronic, Mechanical, Photocopying, Recording or Otherwise), without the prior written permission of the copyright owner of the document.
The author is Jagdeep Kapoor, Brand Guru and Managing Director of the successful Samsika Marketing Consultancy.
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