• Monday, February 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

Responsive customer service as bridge to business accessibility

Nigeria ranks low in customer service, scores 62%

Communication, a fundamental aspect of our lives, has been ingrained in us from childhood as a two-way street—a dynamic interaction involving both speaking and listening. This principle extends beyond mere information dissemination; it encompasses active engagement and dialogue with others. However, as adults, it becomes apparent that not everyone internalised this lesson or perhaps failed to embrace its significance.

Experts assert that effective communication thrives on the exchange of ideas, feedback, and perspectives. When both parties actively participate in a conversation, a symbiotic relationship emerges, fostering transparency, trust, and collaboration. This two-way communication flow contributes to building stronger relationships, resolving issues more effectively, and nurturing an environment conducive to growth and understanding.

In the contemporary digital age, the bridge connecting customers and businesses is increasingly constructed on communication platforms such as the internet, websites, phone calls, and emails. The essence of customer service contact acts as a pivotal gateway, ensuring seamless accessibility. However, a disconcerting trend prevails—one characterised by unanswered calls and ignored emails from numerous businesses. This lack of responsiveness deals a severe blow to the foundation of customer experience, leaving patrons adrift in a sea of frustration and disenchantment.

A recent personal experience vividly underscores the impact of unresponsiveness. Last week, I received a message via SMS purportedly from my pension fund administrator. The message requested consent to provide my bank details to the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs for FGN Palliative. Intriguingly, this message arrived as part of the usual communication from the firm, piquing my interest. Suspecting foul play, I attempted to reach the pension firm through both phone and email. However, my calls went unanswered, and the emails received only automated responses. Five days later, my attempts to seek clarification or resolution remained unanswered. This experience raises pertinent questions: Why can’t companies answer their customer’s calls? How long does it take to respond to an email? Is there a possibility of collusion between supposed fraudsters and contacts within the firm?

The consequences of unanswered communication are far-reaching and impactful. Recent high-profile cases shed light on the detrimental effects of businesses failing to address customer inquiries promptly. A poignant example involves a major airline facing a significant operational meltdown, resulting in numerous stranded passengers seeking assistance. Despite an influx of queries flooding their customer service lines, the airline struggled to cope, leaving many customers in a state of frustration due to unanswered calls and unacknowledged emails. This delay exacerbated the already stressful situation, souring the experience for countless travellers.

Moreover, instances abound where airlines cancel flights, yet months of follow-up and sometimes begging are required for customers to receive refunds. Similarly, telecommunication giants face scrutiny during service disruptions. Network outages or technical glitches causing disruptions often lead to an inundation of customer inquiries. However, delayed or absent responses to these queries intensify customer dissatisfaction, eroding trust in the company’s ability to address concerns promptly.

The real issue lies in the ripple effect of businesses failing to answer phone calls or respond to email messages. It creates an insurmountable barrier, thwarting customers’ attempts at accessing information, seeking assistance, or providing feedback. Such negligence undermines trust and loyalty, casting a shadow on the perceived reliability and credibility of the business.

Customers left in limbo often experience heightened frustration, leading to feelings of neglect or indifference. This negative experience significantly diminishes their inclination to engage further with the business, thereby impacting retention rates and tarnishing the business’s reputation in the market.

Several factors contribute to this lack of responsiveness. Overwhelmed customer service departments, inadequate infrastructure, or a lack of priority given to these communication channels can be prime culprits. Learning from these examples and acknowledging the ramifications of unresponsive customer service, businesses can strategically allocate resources, implement effective communication strategies, and build a customer-centric approach that not only resolves issues but also strengthens relationships and fosters loyalty.

To address this issue, businesses must undertake a holistic approach. Firstly, there must be an intentional investment in technology, involving the adoption and integration of advanced communication technologies that can streamline and manage incoming queries efficiently. Implementing automated responses, chatbots, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can significantly enhance responsiveness.

Secondly, emphasis must be placed on training and empowerment. Firms must equip customer service representatives with comprehensive training, empowering them to handle diverse queries promptly and effectively. There is also a need to establish clear protocols and response times to ensure timely resolution.

Moreover, organisations must prioritise communication channels. Firms have to acknowledge the significance of each communication channel and allocate resources accordingly. A proactive approach to responding to emails and answering calls can quickly solidify customer trust and satisfaction.

Feedback has been described as the “breakfast of champions.” Companies need to regularly solicit customer feedback to gauge satisfaction levels. They can subsequently use this information to continually refine and improve communication strategies, ensuring they align with customer expectations.

The essence of customer service contact as the conduit to business accessibility cannot be overstated. The failure to address customers’ queries through phone calls and emails erects barriers that impede accessibility and erode trust.

Businesses that recognize the pivotal role of prompt communication in addressing customer queries and concerns are better positioned to navigate challenges, build trust, and elevate the overall customer experience in today’s competitive landscape.

By acknowledging the impact of unresponsiveness and implementing proactive measures, businesses can bridge this gap, fostering a customer-centric approach that not only resolves issues but also cultivates loyalty and elevates the overall customer experience. Responsive and efficient communication stands as the cornerstone of a thriving business in today’s interconnected marketplace.

Eromosele, a corporate communication professional and public affairs analyst, wrote via: [email protected]