Australians are sick of sub-par customer service, according to a recent survey released by American Express.
Some 39% of surveyed Australians revealed that businesses fail to meet their service expectations, and Brett Whitford, executive director of Customer Service Institute of Australia said the results show that local firms need to focus on improving customer service.
"Training and developing frontline staff to deliver great service should be viewed as an investment in the long-term health of a business," he said. He also noted that businesses with fewer staff did not necessarily equal poor performance, and it's time for customer service oriented businesses to take a fresh approach to training.
Citing the example of Virgin Airlines, he said one approach is to seek employees with a positive outlook rather than skills. He said the airline recruits firstly according to attitude, with professional training coming at a later stage.
One company that has put HR at the front of driving customer service is McDonald's, with an annual spend of $40m on training crew, managers and corporate staff in Australia alone. Speaking to Human Capital, a spokesperson for McDonald's said HR helps to ensure that customer service initiatives come to life in their restaurants and are supported by appropriate systems and processes, as well as the correct training and development activities to achieve corporate goals.
McDonald's said their review processes help ensure that robust training systems operate in their outlets and that ultimately crew and managers are competent and confident in what they need to do in order to ensure customer satisfaction. Other multinational brands such as Vodafone are less fortunate and are well and truly feeling the sting in the tail of failing consumer expectations.
The mobile phone retailer and service provider has experienced a mass exodus, with 370,000 customers abandoning the company. Vodafone Hutchison Australia chief Nigel Dews has insisted the company is re-positioning itself to win back public support, investing heavily in infrastructure and customer service. The company had also increased the number of customer service staff by more than 300 since last year.
Whitford said providing high quality customer service comes down to quality training and small touches such as showing interest in customers, asking how they are, and generally recognising the importance of their custom.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Published: Monday, August 1, 2011
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