There is a powerful business case to treat all as VIPs. VIP customer service, and satisfaction, is the key strategic differentiator within the banking industry across Africa, writes Matt Bird, founder of Relationology.
After meeting with the executive of an African retail bank, he walked me into one of their local branches. Everyone stopped what they were doing, said hello and smiled the warmest smiles. I felt welcome. A group selfie was taken, and then the signing and presentation of my book to the branch manager.
Feedback overrides failure
That I was made to feel like a true VIP, provoked in me the thought that VIP customer service excellence should be the hallmark of all customer service experiences. Alongside being the right thing to do, there is a powerful business case to treat all as VIPs.
Firstly, you never know who someone actually is. Once while waiting in the reception of a prestigious hotel to meet a high net worth business owner, I heard my name being called. I had taken extra care in how I had dressed, and was then to be confronted by a gentleman wearing trousers too short for him and whose executive paperwork was in a plastic bag. I initially thought I had met him at the local charity, but in fact it turned out that he was the business owner.
Secondly, you never know who someone knows. Professor Dunbar of anthropology at Oxford University states that we all have a cognitive capacity for 150 individual human relationships. Each person that one interacts with could become the greatest advocate or the greatest critic to the 150 people within their network.
Thirdly, you never know who someone could become. It has been said that one should be careful how you treat people when on your way up, as you could meet them on your way down. There is the possibility that you won't meet them on your way down, but in fact are forced to approach someone who you had previously ignored and is now excelling past you.
We should follow African tradition that is to culturally honour those of both age and status. However, we should treat all with the respect that we would a VIP.
The heart of VIP customer service lies in a genuine love for the actual customers, the job and a love for personalising individual customer service. Ranging from using a customers' name, to remembering a small detail that facilitates conversation, it all results in beneficial outcomes.
Once passing a local branch of my bank, I popped in with a simple request. However, the cashier could not help and suggested I telephone the personnel manager instead. Three personnel managers, several days and hours on the telephone later, I spoke to someone, who recommended I telephone the bank's call centre.
Many aspects of service make customers feel valued, and being passed around from person to person searching for an answer to your query, is not one. Nevertheless, customer service does go wrong and what really matters is how one pulls it back after it does. Feedback overrides failure.
VIP customer service and satisfaction is the key strategic differentiator within the banking industry across Africa.
Matt Bird is the founder of Relationology, a unique approach to achieving business growth through the power of relationship. He is an international conference speaker, team day facilitator and business growth advisor.