Customer service advice from Kaydia Tomlinson

Sunday, October 21, 2018

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Poor customer service is a common cry among many clients interacting with both private and public sector organisations these days. In the sea of complaints, often vented on social media, it would seem that there is little, if any, concern for the client's interest or about delivering professional service.

Kaydia Tomlinson, manager, client partnership monitoring unit at JMMB, sees things differently. For her, “Delivering excellent service should really be a part of our everyday relationships even with our friends and family; it is really at the core of who you are and how you make people feel”.

“The client is at the heart of what we do, as they are the reason organisations exist,” she told the Jamaica Observer.

Tomlinson, a 10-year member of the JMMB team and the so-called “clients' advocate”, believes that the customer service role in any organisation is most important because it serves as a minefield for feedback on service delivery, connecting clients to various departments, platforms and channels. It also is a training ground for a range of career opportunities because of the in-depth knowledge of the company's operations, policies and procedures and the high emotional intelligence required for the position, she said.

“Judging from my experience, this area can serve as a stepping stone for other client-centric careers. I know team members who worked with me in the client care centre and have since transitioned into areas like strategy management, sales, and operations,” she said.

Tomlinson, 33, started out with JMMB as a client care representative and took on the role of client experience officer in 2013. She now heads the unit and is charged with designing, developing and supporting strategic initiatives to guide the client partnership process in the JMMB Group. That includes providing coaching and training for team members; resolving escalated client-related issues across multi-channels; ensuring that established client partnership standards are embedded in both internal and external service delivery; serving as subject-matter expert on several projects that will impact clients; and assisting in the reward and recognition process for team members, which underscores the value of excellence in serving clients and monitoring client satisfaction.

“No two days are the same,” she told Career & Education. And she would have it no other way.

With a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology from The University of the West Indies, Mona, Tomlinson said she did not foresee a career in client experience, but her background in interpersonal dynamics, managing different personalities, behaviour modification and tools for reinforcing positive behaviour has helped her manoeuvre in this unchartered territory. That, and the support of “a good manager”.

The JMMB client partnership manager has some advice on how organisations and individuals can improve poor customer service practices:

• Be intentional

“Companies must be intentional in recruiting individuals who are the right fit for the role, and maintain exceptional client experience standards by continuously training and coaching around mindset changes so that exceptional customer service becomes a part of the organisation's culture and does not only exist in pockets of the organisation,” Tomlinson says.

• Provide the necessary tools

It is important that companies provide ongoing training and expose their teams to other resources to ensure that they are equipped with the necessary skills, expertise and aptitude to provide consistently high customer service. Tomlinson adds that employees can also identify opportunities. “I read widely about the field and I also use online resources to bolster my skills,” she says.

• Be introspective

“I examine each interaction with everyone, whether a client, a friend or a team member, so that I can be aware of how I approach a situation to get the desired outcome,” Tomlinson shares.

• Effective communication

Listening is key to effective communication. Tomlinson adds: “You should also listen for the stated and unstated needs in each conversation to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretation. Listen without being judgemental.”

• Encourage feedback

In all interactions it is good to encourage clients to share feedback, whether they are compliments, complaints or suggestions. “Feedback is golden and it helps you to grow and better understand your clients,” she points out.

• Measure

Having set customer service standards, the organisation needs to measure how well these are being met using various mechanisms to get feedback from clients.

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