When did this happen, that we became the culture of bad customer service? Did we always have bad service? With more of our fellow countrymen travelling and witnessing what real customer service is, was it that precise moment we realised that we lack this severely right here in sweet T&T?
The question plagues me anytime I am forced to interact with any company or anyone providing service on behalf of anybody really. I can recall all the times I have had GREAT service, and sad to say it has only been a couple times and mainly by one or two establishments.
It is also becoming more and more frequent that we walk into a store, only to see a customer and a rep/manager going back and forth in a shouting match.
Now since here at Droid Island we are in the mobile field, we will focus more on that side of things. Now I personally spent the majority of my life in Canada, and only moved here a couple years ago to build the Droid brand. So I have been raised in a system and have learned how and why customer service works and HAS to work in Canada/America/Europe.
Some of those key factors to name a few would be accountability, passion, expertise, infrastructure, embracing change, knowledge growth, great products, and the state of mind. Now if we were to look at this attributes, do you think you would find them in our mobile stores here in T&T? This blog I want to take a look at 4 reasons why we will never have good customer service in Trinidad.
To begin righting this ship, I firmly believe employers need to start holding their staff accountable and to standards. Now, most of you reading this maybe agreeing with me and some may be saying well how much more can they hold us to.
One of my daily tasks that I do to keep my ideas flowing and to see how the competitors are doing is an exercise called mystery shopping. It is when someone goes into a store, acts like a customer and grades the entire interaction from the minute you walk in the door to when you leave.
Have you ever walked into Bmobile, Digicel, Flow and seen the lines? I cringe. What do you see? I see uninterested reps, I hear incorrect information, they make me feel like I need them more than they need me and that I must beg to have a decent interaction.
Now there are good hard working individuals in the system, but a company is a sum of its parts. If your company culture has no structure, accountability, vision, it will breed all sorts of wayward behaviours. For me, accountability lands on the shoulders of the owners.
I want to point out a key fact. Just because you own the business or are in a position of power, does not make you a leader or capable of creating a progressive thriving work environment. It is because of this lack of genuine leadership that people do not buy into what a company is doing or where they are trying to go.
From my days at Apple, Telus, Rogers communications, I have learned the importance of leading from the front or hiring the right people to build your system and keeping out of their way. No system, no accountability, expect shouting matches in the stores with customers, no workflow, and many disgruntled clients.
2) Passion & Expertise
The best leaders know how to get the most out of their people, inspire them, get them focused on achieving the company vision. Have you ever noticed that in sports, usually, the best leaders are not the best players on the team?
You rarely ever see the best players turn into coaches when they hang it up. Change the settings to the workplace, if you are the best worker, have the most degrees, get paid the most, those do not qualify you as a leader. Too often, we simply have the wrong people leading our teams or becoming managers and things begin to go downhill.
If you cannot inspire a team to be passionate about whatever they do, they can’t grow and blossom into the team you need for your business to grow.
One of the biggest pet peeves for me personally is wrong information. In T&T we have adopted this mentality of giving wrong information with a smile. Talk to 10 people and get 10 different answers. With no accountability, uninspired reps, in a mobile industry that changes faster than the wind, how can you expect reps to become experts in the field and keep up with the amount of information on the market?
Mobile reps for the most part simply log onto GSMarena, and read/print off the specifications of a device you ask about, and send you on their way. Specs mean nothing if you have no understanding of what they actually are, which is about 9/10 customers.
The average customer still thinks that a high megapixel count in cameras means better quality pictures. Owners have not shown a willingness to invest in their employee’s product knowledge, sales acumen, and customer service savvy.
3) Buy Cheap, Sell High
Now for those of you who have taken a business course, you know the name of the game is to buy at wholesale costs to sell retail. So what do we talk about when we say “Buy cheap, sell high?”
Owners do their best to scour the market for a tonne of low-quality products and sell it to you for a ridiculously high markup. Now we can’t knock the hustle, but where does that leave YOU the customer? We get a TON of calls/messages about issues with devices and customers understandably want them fixed.
They are usually shocked to find out their device either has no parts available, or that because they spent $1000tt or more that their device would be worth fixing. Low and behold, the true value of their product is much lower and they end up being better off just buying another device altogether.
So who is to blame in a situation like this? The retailer for putting inferior products on the shelves and looking to make top dollar, or the customer for not doing their homework on the device to make an informed decision? To me, the answer is a bit of both.
We do our best to research any product we put on the shelves to make sure you get the best quality device regardless of price point, and we urge all customers to ask a million questions, check out the REVIEWS (Not just specs), and make the best possible decision for you.
4) The Customer Vs The Client Vs The Fan
Back in Canada/US, most companies in the retail and service industry all have one common goal, and that is to serve the customer. Do you know what the difference is between a customer, client and a fan?
A customer is someone you typically deal with on a one-off basis, one that you may see again. (Ex. someone buying gum from a quick shop). They walk in, buy the gum and the interaction is over once you get their money.
A client is someone you have a relationship with. You know their name, you have some recorded information or sales history with them, they come to for anything related to what your business has to offer and most importantly but often overlooked, you know each other on a name basis.
A Fan is a client that constantly engages with and promotes your brand, due to your constant relationship with them.
How many brands in Trinidad & Tobago have done enough to turn you into a client? Now you could be a client to a company but only with them out of a lack of competition. BMobile and Digicel benefit from the lack of competition and customers may stay with them simply because there just isn’t anywhere else to go. This is why it is important to turn your clients into fans. People that love your brand, promote it, engage with it through social media, events or anything that you do.
Too many companies focus simply on the bottom dollar and how best they can part you away with your hard earned cash. We as customers need to give ourselves a bit more respect and demand that we are treated as a guest in their business.
We want to be wooed, we want to feel like our money is precious to you and that our business is the lifeblood of your company. Companies think that all customers care about is the price. So if they have a sale, sell something cheaply, then the service aspect of an interaction does not matter.
If all you do is hunt for the cheapest price, unfortunately, the company may never decide to step their game up and actually offer you service and treat you with a shred of dignity. When you look at the hotel industry as an example, all hotels & motels offer the same thing, a place to spend the night.
The difference from a $100ttd/night room to $1500ttd/night is the service that comes with it. Am I saying go out and only shop at the most expensive place? No. But I have witnessed too many times, where people would pass up a company willing to go the distance with their service, just to save $100ttd and get horrible service to stores down.
Let us start giving our business to where it is deserved. It’s only when we as customers start to take our business elsewhere, will companies begin to change how they operate and treat us. Take a look at the debacle with United Airlines.
They called the police to remove a paying customer off the flight so that a staff member could get his seat, and it turned into the police bloodying his face and dragging him off the flight. That interaction cost United Airlines stock to drop over $1.4 billion USD.
That is the power of the shareholders aka the paying customer. Customer service will never change here in Trinidad if we do not change our customer mindset and demand service.
Let us know in the comments what else you think we can do here to further improve our customer service right here in sweet T&T.