Richard Branson says, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”
India, like many other countries going through developing phase, has come through several growth phases from a Business point of view. In the very early days, it was the Zamindar’s world – those who had huge land were the Kings. Then came in License raj – One who had a license to run a business, was the King. Today, we are in the information/knowledge age – one who has great knowledge wins over the business.
With each era, the way business is done and the way customers are managed has been different. Indian industries, that have gone through many such eras, are in some ways stuck in the old way of doing things and handling customers.
A few years back, local shop owners – be it a travel agency or a Kirana shop, were too used to having a good repeat customer base. We all used to shop in the same Kiran store and book our Bus/Train/etc. tickets through the same travel agent. The shop keepers never sensed the onset of e-commerce business. Customers were then very loyal.
Today, with hordes of e-commerce businesses luring customers with unique discounts/offers have given customers simply too many choices. Customers are wise to choose and shop around for the best offer. Customers are not necessarily LOYAL anymore.
In such scenario, as a shop keeper how would you treat an already depleting customer base?
I am sure many of you have experienced this situation. You were once a very loyal customer and had a great rapo with the shop keeper. Now things have changed. You recently started booking online for your travel needs. On one such online booking instance, you were waiting to get into a bus/coach which stops at your previous local agent. You get into his shop and ask if the bus is on time and pop comes a very unfriendly response.
The shop keeper bursts out uncontrollably, “Why should I tell you? Have you bought ticket with us? You bought it online right? Call the online guys to find out if the bus is on time?”
Is his reaction right? Put yourself in the shop keepers shoes and think. If you had courteously helped the customer, you stood a remote chance to convert him back to being loyal or at least recommend others to use your services. However, the way you reacted, think again now – “Would the customer ever come back to you?”. Never. Right?
“How you react to situations can make or break your customer relationship”
The hospitality segment is growing very rapidly in India right now. You have a lot of choice to book online and all these Oyo Rooms kind of services available so easily. Here is the situation that I have experienced recently. We booked 3 AC rooms for 2 days @ 1,500 INR per room price point. This meant a easy 1,500 x 3 rooms x 2 days = 9,000 INR business from us.
We spent the first night in the hotel. The AC does not operate by itself. Every time you want to switch it ON, you will have to call the reception who remotely switches it ON. This is great from a resource conservation point of view. However, from customer management point of view would not it be nice to have the AC work automatically when the customer is in the room? Getting the customer to call every time is not going to make the customer very happy, is it? On top of this, the towel given has blood or kum-kum spots on it. You have to again call them to get it replaced.
Next day morning, one of the room cleaners in the hotel, who has not got any training in customer management, misbehaves and you (THE CUSTOMER) who already had a bad time with the AC, etc. react to it and shout at him. The next thing you know, the cleaner complained about it to the manager and he (the manager) is at your door asking you to apologise for what happened?
The manager is more worried about how the customer talked to his cleaner but least bothered about the problem the customer has faced. The misbehaviour of the cleaner himself.
Shielding your employees and protecting them against harm is a good thing and keep the employee happy. However, without understanding the situation and reacting on a mere hunch, in ways that will make you loose a customer forever, is not called for. This is exactly what happened.
We vacated the room immediately and booked elsewhere. The hotel lost 1 day x 3 rooms x 1,500 = 4,500 INR in business. But thats not just it. It lost not one customer and a single instance of business, it lost all those customers that we could have recommended to. It lost business (loads of it) from all those people in just one single instance.
Customer is King! How you manage your customer make a big difference to your business!
If you are not directly interacting with your customers in your business, then put in a lot of effort to train your employees on effective customer management.