Customer relations is a key part of growing a business. Since customers are an integral part of a business, the manner in which they are addressed and managed before and after patronizing the business is of significance. It requires a form of strategy and planning that could retain customers and keep them engaged and interested. With a number of awards in the sack, and a nomination in recognition of the customer service team which support the customer-centric nature of the company. Jovago.com looks inward to discuss the basics of customer service with our Head of Customer Service for Nigeria, Omolara Adagunodo and shares some interesting tips to boost customer relations for businesses which are a key part of the economies they exist in.
J: How would you explain customer service to a six-year old?
O: Customer service is the way a company helps their customers to understand their products and services while helping them make the right decisions.
J: Customers call for various reasons, could you recall some interesting calls/stories and how you handled the situation?
O: We once had a booking from a guest (who we were later to realise had the nickname ‘Fire’), he had arrived at the hotel and tried to pay them in dollars. The hotel declined the payment and requested payment in Naira as they did not accept dollars. He got angry and tried to leave without paying. The hotel manager asked security to stop him from going out and he in turn, locked their gate and held everyone hostage. The hotel manager then called us moderate the situation. Jovago called the irate guest and pled with him to open the hotel gate. He finally opened the gate after about 1 hour.
J: What are the top issues customers have?
O: Finding availability in certain hotels during the peak season e.g the Calabar Carnival amongst others and conflict of received booking confirmations.
J: What is the most fun part of what you do?
O: Stepping up to different challenges from different people daily.
J: For new business owners, customer care may not be the most important aspect of their business strategy, do you have any advice on promoting customer care for them?
O: Customer care is necessarily the most important part of your business. It is the cheapest and easiest way to attain customer loyalty in a very short period of time. It is great to have a focus on marketing and sales, but more important to ensure that these customers are well taken care of. Great customer experience can lead to an increase in sales and lower marketing expenses. Imagine not ever having to pay for marketing because the existing customers are so happy that they will on their own accord refer your services to their family and friends.
J: What is your magic phrase for calming an unhappy customer?
O: “I understand this is totally unacceptable…”
J: How do you perceive customer care in Nigeria?
O: It isn’t yet where it needs to be. The customers sometimes are not aware of what they deserve and how to demand service. As the customers become more savvy about service issues, they will know to demand service and organisations who wish to remain competitive will have to listen to the market.