LISTEN TO THE QUEEN: A Perspective on Customer Feedback

 I do not know how many of us use public transport. In my part of the world, Accra to be precise, one will need to use public transport one way or the other. Our public transport system is mainly made up of taxis and buses popularly known as ‘tro tro’ and the many Daewoo Matiz cars accessed through ride hailing apps. To most of us who have patronised tro tros before, you can relate to this story.

For the purpose of persons who are new to this term, tro tro describes privately owned minibus shared taxi that travel defined routes. Often from their ‘stations’, they set off only when the buses are full. It is probably the largest ride sharing system in Ghana and some neighbouring countries. This is a traditional set up that does not function on applications currently. Patrons have to walk to the stations or stand at designated bus stops in hope of a tro tro with one or more empty seats to accommodate them. If you are curious about the origin of the term, legend has it that it is derived from the Ga ‘tro’ which was the equivalent of ‘three pence’. Formerly the standard fare, the conductors (mates) usually asked of ‘three three pence’.

A colleague shared the story of her row with a bus conductor one morning on her way to the office. According to her, the ‘mate’ as we usually called them was cheeky and rude to her because she complained of the incessant stops at every bus stop. With her narration, it was a whole show. Many of us who patronise tro tros have been recipients of the bad customer service of ‘mates’ or even witnesses to such showdowns.

As some businesses such as Uber, Bolt, Yango and the lot of them cherish and seek customer feedback to enrich and better their services, other businesses do not give a hoot on what you the customer feel can be done to improve upon their service. Customer service as I define it is the response given by my partners in a business relationship about a product or service I offer them. It is the customer’s narration of his or her experience with us.

For which ever profession you are in, appreciating the feedback of customers can be a game changer to your business. The conversation on customer feedback is crucial to businesses, religious organisations, NGO’s and any company or activity that interfaces with one or more customer. If you are an SME or a start-up, do not assume such key pointers are critical to you only when you attain certain growth, the truth is, you need to optimise customer feedback to attain the growth your company desires.

Ruby Newell-Legner in her book “Understanding Customers” said a typical business hears from 4% of its dissatisfied customers. 96% do not voice their complaints and 91% never come back”. Customer feedback is very important in every business because it plays an instrumental role in the sustainability of the business.

The point is, when a customer is unhappy about your service or product and you do nothing about it when they give you the feedback, you become the proverbial fly that followed the corpse to the grave. Customers can make or unmake you. Research indicates that 90% of customers who are not satisfied and have a complaint will never buy products or services from the same company again. These same customers you have lost will not go down alone but become crusaders and conveners against your business.

The Microsoft 2017 State of Global Customer Service report indicates that 52% of people around the globe believe that companies need to take action on feedback provided by their customers. Let me remind you just in case you have forgotten of the famous Nokia phone brand. Yea, those phones that were everywhere and we all could mimic its ringtone. Paying attention to customer feedback is crucial. Many of us will jump at a better transport service aside tro tros who treat us with dignity and respect. In fact, I do not mind paying a little more than I pay for tro tro.

Customer satisfaction and feedback are very important especially in this era where businesses have become more competitive due to the advent of covid 19. Today, more than ever, feedback has become a mechanism many businesses use to re-strategize their products and services. Businesses must see it as one of their market research data collection strategies.

As a manager, investing in customer feedback is key. If your customer gives feedback, it is the most expensive gift ever. Customer feedback is about the evaluation, compliments, comments, criticism given by a customer. Feedback should be welcomed and not treated with disdain. The way some businesses treat customer feedback makes you wonder if you are competition. Blessed are those whose feedback are accepted and worked on!

“Feedback is a gift”, especially the one you do not invest resources to get, Customers are now moving beyond buying just product or service, they are now buying significance, they are buying prestige, they are buying prominence so deliver just that.

In this age and time, there is no excuse for you to be ignorant of what your customers want. The likes of Google forms, a feedback box (which is going extinct now), a simple text message and a call are at your disposal to make good use of. It is necessary we go the extra mile to periodically assess our customer service delivery and work on our lapses whiles we strengthen our strongholds.

Petra Aba Asamoah in her book, Sales 101 describes the customer as a Queen. If the customer is Queen, then she deserves a royal service, don’t you think.? Her feedback is invaluable and acted upon immediately. No one will want to spend money where you are treated as trash (excuse my language). I think Petra’s description of a customer is apt and resonates with Mahatma Gandhi’s rendition.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. HE is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by allowing us to do so. –Mahatma Gandhi

I am always blown away when I read the story of Lily Robinson and Sainsbury. The story is told of a three-year-old Lily Robinson who wrote a letter to Sainsbury, the UK grocery store. The content of her letter was simple. She asked why “tiger bread was called tiger bread and not giraffe bread?” Little Lily expected a thank you as many letters from children her age received. She was pleasantly surprised when the customer service manager, Chris King responded with a letter. “I think renaming it to giraffe bread is a brilliant idea!” Some months later, tiger bread became giraffe bread.

Now, that is listening to the queen!

 

Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh is a corporate trainer, book publishing consultant and professional ghostwriter assisting busy executives to write and publish their books, articles, and speeches. He has served as Head of Protocol at a diplomatic mission, Corporate Affairs Officer at a French multinational agribusiness and as Events and Media Correspondent for a digital ad agency.

You can contact the author via:

Meprempsa@gmail.com