Customer Service – The Hard and the Soft Elements.

Due to a viral infection I was laid low and was unable to blog the last few days. I am now back to normal and hope to get back to blogging regularly.

We now come to the bigger picture of achieving Total Customer Service (TCS). Having looked at the elements that go into all expectations of customers from suppliers of goods and services, let us look at the action part of the program.

There are two elements to running any endeavor, be it business, a non-profit, or even just a home. The basic elements do not change and the differences will be in the details. The two elements are the Hard Area of systems, procedures, processes and implementation; and the Soft Area of the human element involved.

The Hard Element:

There are a number of ready-made solutions available that put in the proper systems procedures etc, like Enterprise Resource Planning, Total Accounting Packages, International Standards Organization’s Certification process etc. All these follow the principle of documenting what is done and doing what is documented to bring about a system in the running of any endeavor. As one goes along gaining experience, fine tuning constantly keeps taking place to improve effectiveness and efficiency, which again are documented and implemented. This process enables efficient operations and all concerned are usually expected to study and be completely familiar with the processes and procedures as recorded in manuals of operations.

Such documented and scrupulously followed systems and processes can produce good results if somewhat mechanical ones. It is however to be appreciated that the implementation is by human beings and this is where we shall concentrate our focus on in our future posts. That aspect of Customer Service can be called The Soft Element.

The best way to go about doing this is to take some specific real life stories and study them.

I reproduce below an email that I sent to one book publisher’s Regional Office and the Bookseller through whom the service was extended to me.

“Dear Mr. Shinde,

I wish to place on record my sincere appreciation for the excellent service rendered by two of your employees.  I do hope that this message will reach them to convey my appreciation.

I recently wanted a book published by you, that was reviewed in a newspaper but was not available in any of the book shops that I normally buy from in Pune.  I went to your website, located your Pune office and spoke to one Mr. Santosh Joshi who assured me that he will do everything possible to see that I get the book.  I subsequently got a phone call from one Mr. Sachin Manjrekar of your Mumbai office who too assured me that a copy of the book will be delivered to me at Pune before too long.  The next thing I hear is from Landmark Pune that a copy of the book was being delivered to me at my residence and whether I would be at home to receive it.

The book was duly delivered in my absence after I had given instructions as to how it should be delivered.

I am truly amazed at this level of customer service.  I come across indifference to customer service everywhere and this experience has been truly impressive.

I am copying this message to Landmark Pune also to express my gratitude and appreciation for having taken so much trouble over a book the value of which is insignificant and the cost of delivering it to me would have perhaps even wiped out the margins on it.

Both your organizations and the people concerned have gained a loyal customer.  I hope that you will spread this message to everyone in your two organizations to highlight how a small gesture can create and keep a customer.  Not only that, I shall be an ambassador for you as a bonus!

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Xxxxxxxxxxxx”

We shall study this actual event and see what we can learn from it in the future blogs.

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