Last night while I was having dinner at a Food Court in one of the well-known shopping malls in Bangalore, suddenly it started to feel extremely hot. I felt probably it was the rich Indian food which shot up the metabolism. But soon I realized that this sudden spike in temperature was not caused by the spices contained in the food, but rather the Air Conditioner at the Food Court had been switched off.
When I looked around, I could see at least 30 people sitting and having their dinner in that heat, not bothered about the sudden surge of centigrade.
Like a typical “humble” Indian customer, who thinks demanding comfort equates to being snobbish, I kept quiet for a while. However, I could not bear the brunt of the heat and took the matter up with the folks at the mall. Upon hearing my argument, their only justification was, it was night so we switched the air-conditioner off; “Apologies for the Inconvenience”.
So here I am; a disgruntled customer, only one among 30 others and all I get is an apology and nothing else. And no, they did not switch on the Air Conditioners!
This brings me to the basic fundamentals of Customer Service in India: Do we actually value customer service, or do we bother to provide a customer service?
In the startup world, we entrepreneurs always talk about how a customer is important to us, how we should value a customer’s opinion and how we should develop our brand with our customers? But do our employees share this same mindset? Or is it ever possible to develop customer centric mindset in our early employees?
We see corporates spend a lot of money on training their employees to develop a great “Customer Service Mindset”. Obviously the startups and SMEs cannot spend that amount to train their employees on customer service. Having said that, does training your employees on Customer Service even help?
The reason I say this because, customer service is a mindset, and it cannot be taught to someone. One can be trained about some of the etiquettes; however, unless the person has the right attitude, he will never execute what he learns.
Customer Service is a reflection of your state of mind
When we say customer service, we always look at how a person behaves with the customer. Often, customers do not expect any customer service. But the employees go out of their way to delight the customer. It can be as simple as offering to help a customer in selecting an item from a showroom or help him pick the right product package. It also includes asking questions that show empathy and willingness in understanding the customer. It is never about just doing your job right. Customer Service is about delighting the customer, which unfortunately is very subjective and cannot be taught or measured accurately. This is why I say, customer service is a state of your mind. Unless you are happy, unless you have positive thoughts in your head, unless you have a sense of gratitude for the work, for the people around you, you will never “delight” your customer.
India alarmingly ranks at a lowly 111 in the World Happiness Ranking (as per The United Nations). This startling fact resonates with why we have such poor customer service in the country. If people are not happy with their lives, their career choices, their health, their Government, how on earth will they ever think of delighting their customers?
You need to make your employees happy and not train them
When we say entrepreneurs need to graduate to being leaders, we talk about their vision, how they should build and motivate a team and manage the whole show. However, a leader is only as good as his people. So unless the leader has a dedicated team, who shares his vision and executes the vision like it was their own, the company will always struggle to achieve success. So how will an entrepreneur motivate his employees? Simple – Help them to be happy in their lives and they will pay you back by being devoted and motivated with their work.
How do you make your employees happy?
- Make the culture at office fun – People have problems with their personal lives. You don’t have control over those. But you do have control over your office culture. Make it fun. Give them a sense of belonging.
- Create group activities outside of work – A great way to gel with each other
- Set an Example – Often the bosses are too lazy to do any fun activity. You need to get up and do every fun activity yourself, if you want your employees to do the same
- Let them unplug – Give them opportunity to unplug once in a while. This is the time when they are disconnected from every electronic gadget, every phone call etc.
- Give them a purpose – Often we mistake this with vision for the company. No, purpose is bigger than the vision. Give them a purpose. And the purpose will be different for different people.
- Encourage people to meditate – Meditation is a great way to be at peace with yourself
- Encourage them to exercise – The worst nightmare of every entrepreneur is to hit the gym. Encourage people to exercise daily. It secretes certain hormones that are related to happiness.
- Discourage people from excessive chit-chatting – Trivial chit-chats never have a sense of purpose and are detrimental to one’s mental well-being
- Encourage people to take part in charity- Whether just as a donor or a volunteer, taking part in charity helps one to connect with people and/or a cause and gives a sense of satisfaction.
- Celebrate Small Victories – We celebrate bigger accomplishments. However, we should take time to celebrate smaller victories in life.
People are driven by their needs
Abraham Maslow, an American Psychologist, proposed a pyramidal structure of human needs, with the most pressing needs at the bottom which need to be satisfied before one moves up to the next level in the pyramid. This is popularly known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.
If you observe the diagram and analyze every stage of the pyramid, you will understand the motivational drivers of a human being.
The issue lies in the fact that all companies tend to cater to the top part of the pyramid. And little or no attention is given to the bottom 4 layers. However, an employee can only perform to his fullest potential when all his other needs (from bottom to top) have been taken care of.
Don’t just think that giving work related ownership in your startup, offering equity or promising a lot of learning are all that’s there to make your employees motivated. I see way too many posts and articles that talk about these basic points. Rather go deeper, look at your employee as you would do to any other human being. Remember, more often than not people’s unhappiness prevents them from performing as opposed to a lack of motivation.
Have you taken any of these steps to make sure your employees are really taking customer service seriously and performing to their fullest? Let us know your thoughts.
Pic Courtesy: oursocialtimes.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Raunak Guha – Co- founder FounderMates.com
Raunak holds an MBA in Innovation and Entrepreneurship from Imperial College London. Prior to starting FounderMates.com, he was working as a Business Development Executive with a Financial Analytics SME in the UK. He has been very active in the startup eco-system in London and possesses a deep passion to foster entrepreneurship globally.
He can be contacted at +91 9008 639 690 and his email id is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Raunak’s past article(s): Find them here