IN recent months, I have had some very bad experiences with respect to the service received from various persons and business entities in Jamaica, both face to face and via the telephone. These poor treatments ranged across cashiers, servers and store attendants to name a few.
This has led me to make some drastic decisions about the future use of their products and services, especially since we are now operating in a marketplace where there are numerous options. I am, however, challenged with making a change in service from the various government entities since they are monopolistic in nature and possibly do not really have the need to establish such premise; hence, my focus will be on the public sector entities.
While the larger organisations and business entities are trying to improve their customer service levels by instituting policies, implementing training measures and performance appraisal systems among other human development and management strategies, it appears that the smaller-sized entities are challenged with the stance of customer service orientation. It is highly possible that poor customer service could be a result of inadequate financial resources to hire persons who are more trainable and who have the foundation attitude to be customer-centric, as well as to have ongoing training programmes for their employees.
I also believe that some of the employees may not fully understand the relationship between good customer service, revenue for the business, profitability and thus their job retention. They need to be cognisant that when the customer carries out a transaction, the revenue obtained is the source of their income. They also must recognise that when the customer is satisfied, they will become loyal and committed to their product or service and in this case through positive word-of-mouth publicity will pass on the good news to other persons. This type of promotion is of no monetary cost to the business as opposed to promotion via the media. The finale is that there will be committed customers and repeat patronage which all lead to profitability.
Notwithstanding this, the employees are not to be totally blamed for such ignorance as the business owners and operators have the responsibility to ensure that this knowledge is shared.
Further reflection on these poor customer service occurrences led me to think about the relationship between customer service and justice? Research has shown that consumers relate to equity, that is, what is right, fair and deserving in terms of three types of justice. The first is distribution justice, which suggests that the customer expects to get what they deserve based on their input, for example, the sacrifice they have made and the price paid for the goods or services. Secondly, there is procedural justice where the customer expects that the service will be delivered in an appropriate manner and thirdly, interactional justice, where the customer needs to be treated in a respectful and polite manner; and with dignity.
Can this be taken as "food for thought" to improve the financial and economic status of many small businesses?
Gaunette Sinclair-Maragh is a lecturer at University of Technoogy, Jamaica. email@example.com