Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Courtesy and employee commitment - a must for customer loyalty

Deal with your customers courteously (c) www.morguefile.com
Recently I was at one of the famous guest houses in Thamel of Kathmandu to meet one of my friends from India.

He had called me from the guest house landline and I could not grasp the room number correctly. When I asked the front desk staff, he fumbled through few pages, could not find the name and threw the log book to me. I scanned through the pages but could not find the name.

The staff showed no interest at all to help. Instead, he claimed that my friend might have lodged at some other hotel.

So I took out my cellphone and showed him the number. Luckily, it was dialed from the same guest house. Then the next person at the front desk came forward and checked in the computer’s log. And there he was – in the room no 308.

He dialed the room and handed me the phone. I thanked the man for his kindness.

When we left the place, we asked the gatekeeper directions to a well-known pub. But instead of helping us, he behaved like a self-satisfied snob. There was no politeness and not even a pinch of humility in his tone of voice.

As a result, my friend from India said that he would not stay at the guest house from now-onwards. And I promised not to recommend any of my friends to the guest house.

Thus, here goes the first nugget of wisdom to retain customer loyalty.

Customer relationship starts at your organisation’s gate itself. Conduct training on courtesy and etiquette for all staff starting from the gatekeeper and front desk staff. And apply zero tolerance on compliance.

In a recent webinar titled “Creating a sustainability innovation culture in your organisation: Employee engagement 2.0”, Christine Diamente, Head of Brand and Corporate Sustainability at Alcatel-Lucent, explained how the company ensures same culture in all countries across the globe. Alcatel-Lucent applies zero tolerance on compliance and conducts compliance training for all employees across the globe, as well as contractors and subcontractors.

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Few days ago, as I was passing by a state-owned dairy products outlet in New Road of Kathmandu, I thought of picking a packet of paneer. So I went inside the shop and asked for a 200 gram packet. As the lady gave me the packet, I handed over a 500 rupees note to her.

To my astonishment, she took back the packet from me and the man sitting next to her bluntly said that they don’t have the change.

What a nonsense! They had the product, there was a customer ready to buy, but they did not have willingness to sell it.   

It not only miffed me, but even tempted me to look for other options. Though I was a loyal customer of the dairy, I bought a competitor’s product. And it tasted equally good!

Thus, the second nugget of wisdom to retain customer loyalty goes like this.

Come up with plans to ensure employee commitment. Embed sustainability within the employee culture. 

In the earlier mentioned webinar, Sarah Ellis, Head of Corporate Responsibility and Society at Sainsbury’s, said that sustainability is embedded within the employee culture at Sainsbury’s. They have come up with 20x20 Sustainability Plan with 20 commitments based on five corporate values to make them an even more sustainable business by 2020.

At Sainsbury’s colleagues with innovative ideas are rewarded. “Little stories, big difference” videos showcase employee efforts in engaging customers to advance 20x20 goals at Sainsbury’s.

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The webinar, Creating a sustainability innovation culture in your organisation: Employee engagement 2.0, was organised by Ethical Corporation on 12 February 2014. The names of the organisations have not been mentioned to protect their identities.

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