Have you ever patronised a business and were impressed by its products and services on one occasion but were disgusted on your next visit? I have had that experience more times than I can count. This degree of inconsistency appears to be prevalent in many businesses across St. Vincent and the Grenadines. For instance, I visited a prestigious hotel on one occasion and received excellent service; however, on my next visit I had to send back a glass of water to the kitchen four times because it contained visible foreign particles. In the retail industry, to a large extent, the level of customer service given is very temperamental; it changes like the wind and is heavily dependent on the mood of the corporate representative. Customers are often ignored or even insulted while being served. The inconsistency in services offered by our businesses may give the false impression that many of our sales representatives suffer from bipolar.
How long will it take for us to realise that inconsistent service equates to poor service? Even though the business provides excellent service for the majority of the times, customers are more likely to remember the business for the one bad experience they had over a 30-day period, rather than for the several times in which they received excellent service.
Research shows that consistent service is the driving force behind customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. In addition, not only is consistent excellent service expected by the customers, but 73 percent of your customers are likely to switch brands if consistent excellent service is not received. We have all witnessed many businesses providing excellent service upon the commencement of their operations and later becoming sloppy. This subsequently results in a fall in sales as their service quality deteriorates. Even so, consistent excellent service does not happen by accident. It involves carefully designed strategies and policies, geared at ensuring that each customer receives the same excellent service from each representative every time. It also involves providing professional training to staff and the development of a system where staff can be held accountable for the level of service they provide.
The provision of consistent excellent service is crucial for the building of strong, long term customer relationships. Consistency is key if businesses are to develop a reputation of reliability and trust, where customers can be confident that their expectations will be met during every interaction.
Dr. Wendyann Richardson is a Management Consultant who specializes in corporate governance, business operations management and refining of skills through training. She can be reached at [email protected]