The University of Ghana Business School on January 30, 2015 organized a training session for its faculty and non – Academic staff on ‘Shooting for Greater Customer Services'.
The training, held in two different sessions, were both facilitated by Professor Robert Hinson, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Enterprise Development (CSED) and immediate past Head of the Department of Marketing & Entrepreneurship.
In facilitating the sessions, Professor Hinson, who also serves in various distinguished capacities, treated such topics as the key to delivering exceptional Customer Service; Personal Expectations; the Walt Disney Service Success Formula and the focus of Superior service.
According to Professor Hinson, the customer service conundrum is not peculiar to the University of Ghana alone, but is rather a pandemic rife across Ghana’s public and private sectors.
Creating superior customer service therefore, he said, involves the culture, environment, systems and the performance of every team member in an organization. In effect, management should not be regarded as the only stakeholders in ensuring customer service, but rather be an all- inclusive approach.
However, he held that it is essential for an organization to have a homogenous operational definition of what superior customer service entails and orient its members towards achieving it.
Prof. Hinson identified culture and physical infrastructure as key elements that support service offer and stressed to faculty participating in the session to never accommodate the substandard. He said it affects service delivery, causes inefficiency and affects an organisation’s overall productivity.
To staff in charge of logistics and physical structures, he urged to maintain composure in delivering quality service to both internal and external customers of the UGBS.
While cultural elements may impede the performance of a perfect system, Prof. Hinson concurred with faculty that systems facilitating customer services ought to be made visible. The session also established that UGBS ought to create and enforce punitive measures to ensure the UGBS system functions properly. A codified system to facilitate a homogenous culture of exceptional service delivery was also agitated.
On the magic formula for achieving excellent customer service, Prof. Hinson stressed the existence of a healthy balance between team members who make things happen, together with a customer-driven agenda and sound business practices. The latter requires a balance of knowledge, pricing, marketing and innovation, he said.
In explaining why every organization has to pay attention to its internal customers, Prof. Hinson stated that internal customers are the first point of call of every organization and as such, there is always the need to foster their well-being as they contribute to ensuring the delivery of good customer service to the external customers.
Professor Hinson, making a reference to the success formula of Walt Disney (an entertainment and media enterprise), advised participants of both sessions to pay attention to infinite details which, inarguably, will help to improve the School’s service offer. This, he assured, would positively define UGBS and change its financial fortunes
Professor Hinson further stated that as an institution, it was necessary for UGBS to employ empathy in its dealings. He said empathy, which underscores understanding individuals from their frame of reference, helps to among others, build trust and foster loyalty to the UGBS brand.
He then identified body language, tone of voice, respect and choice of words as the building blocks to ensuring empathy and provided practical tips on how to be empathetic.
He advised participants to desist from the silo mentality of fostering the growth of one’s department only; be circumspect in their diction; be team-oriented and show perseverance in delivering to clients.
The training session was not without its moments of gravitas, however. It was revealed that complacency has made the University insensitive to customer needs. Participants proposed customer satisfaction surveys, in the short term, to identify the needs of its customers while an individual could be appointed to handle all customer service- related issues, in the long term.
Participants also pushed for the appointment of service champions who would ensure the institutionalization of service excellence.
Although participants were skeptic about the materialization of such a structure, they concurred that there was the need for the appointment of a core team whose sole purpose would be to ensure service satisfaction.
The highly interactive sessions were capped with practical exercises intended to entrench into participants, the sum of the germane training.
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