By Lynda Were Nabayiinda, Customer Experience Director, Airtel Uganda
Customer Service Week has been the buzz word over the last week and into this with many organizations’ Customer Care and Service teams planning on how to reach out to their customers through this week. Some do it out of company culture, others simply doing it because other are doing it in the same season.
To make sense of it, an important question to ask is; What is this Customer Service Week (CSW)?
CSW is an internationally recognized and celebrated period, considered to be of great importance to the bloodline of organizations and businesses — the customer. It was birthed in 1992 when the U.S. Congress proclaimed Customer Service Week a nationally recognized event, celebrated annually during the first full week in October and it has since become an internationally recognized event. This year 2021 it will run from October 4th -8th.
This year, Customer Service Week will be held under the theme; The Power of Service.
Service reconnects us to one another. It provides opportunities for us to grow as individuals. It transforms us into happier more active members of society and creates stronger and more connected customers. In business, by providing top notch customer experience, businesses recoup customer acquisition costs through retention and extracting more value from the customers. Ultimately we want all the new and old customers to stick with us hence the need to have a superior experience for both internal and external customers by celebrating them.
Each year, thousands of companies in the different sectors across the world celebrate Customer Service Week. They represent leading financial, telecom, healthcare, insurance, manufacturing, retailing, hospitality, communications, not-for-profit, educational organizations, as well as government agencies. As is the norm for the last three years, Airtel Uganda too celebrates the international customer service week at all the customer touch points and within the departments as well.
This year at Airtel, we opted to engage through new customer touch points on through communication in appreciation of all our customers on digital and SMS fora, digital engagement initiatives and interviews in live environments at the shops, testimonials from customers on various products, launch new shops in our growth markets and internally appoint Customer Experience (CX) champions for all departments to drive the company CX agenda and create ambassadors for product awareness and quick resolution options for top issue our customers come across.
Allow me to make reference to an adaptation from Ken Blanchard’s quote. When the word customer service is mentioned, the image that crosses one’s mind is the front facing staff that connect directly with the company’s customers and other stakeholders. This however, is only one part of customer service and support. As customers’ demands change and increase, it is impossible for a company to provide top class service without the efforts of each person in the company. Today the back office too has an important an inextricable role in customer support. While the people working in these departments may remain in the background, their support to the frontend staff is indispensable. In order to serve customers, the customer support staff require information, paperwork, visibility, payments to be processed, making changes in contracts, organizing dispatch of products and other such tasks to help them. Proficient handling of these back-office tasks also ensures that the frontend staff can focus only on their core job – providing top class service to customers consistently. In the end, Customer service is not a department. It is the whole company. It is a culture. It is a mindset.
Finally, “Service, in short, is not what you do, but who you are. It is a way of living that you need to bring to everything you do, if you are to bring it to your customer interactions.” – Betsy Sanders
To all Customer Service and Experience focused organizations, let us all go out there and truly live the year’s theme with both our internal and external customers!