As consumers and businesses are urged to tighten their belts in light of slowed economic growth, customer service experience is set to become an increasingly important differentiator for local businesses, and one of the main factors that will influence decisions regarding which supplier to purchase products and services from.

This is according to Fatima Sullivan, Vice President of Customer Services for DHL Express Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) who says that research shows consumers are willing to spend more for better customer service and with those companies that they believe provide excellent customer service.

“In an environment where alternatives are rife, customer experience is rapidly becoming one of the most important elements of a business’ success. While price will always be important in the mind of the consumer, this becomes less so if a business offers first class customer service to support the product or service.”

It is for this reason that DHL invests so heavily in a customer-centric culture, says Sullivan. “The customer needs to be the key focus in all activities, whether it is improvements in delivery times or query resolution processes. A good customer service department should understand the link between the way customers are managed and handled, and the company’s bottom line.”

Findings from the Economist Intelligence Unit: Creating a seamless customer experience report(3) revealed that almost 75% of consumers will stop doing business with a company following bad customer service and that more than half will complain to friends and family about their experience.

Sullivan says:
“These figures highlight the detrimental impact of poor customer service in terms of revenue loss and reputation, and why customer service needs be a key focus area for a company.”

She says that as a result of its continued efforts, divisions within DHL Express Sub Saharan Africa were recently awarded a total of 22 awards in the 10th Annual Stevie Awards for Sales and Customer Service.
Sullivan says that an insanely customer-centric culture is only achieved if all employees have the same goal in mind – to delight the customer at every opportunity.

“We continuously thrive to ensure that every individual in the business understands the impact they can have on the customer experience, and focus on the smaller details that drive quality. Ensuring that the voice of the customer resonates throughout the organization is also essential to great service. Initiatives such as the Net Promoter Approach (NPA) management tool, which measures promoters and detractors among your customer base and proactively sources feedback from them, can have a huge impact in identifying areas for improvement and enabling the company to make the necessary changes to enhance their offering and continually offer better ways to deliver excellence to customers.”

“Our golden rule for success is to focus relentlessly on the little details that drive quality, listen intently to what our customers are telling us, and making sure that every individual in our business understands the impact they can have on the customer experience. It’s all comes down to making small incremental improvements every day,” concludes Sullivan.

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