Livingsta shares her positive experience in business administration, customer service and education.
As an advise for NVQ candidates, this is unit F3 – Mandatory unit from Group A. This unit deals with quite some complex areas related to customer service. The questions can be quite confusing and intriguing but then a detailed thoughtful response will make responding to these questions quite achievable. I tried my best to input all information as best as I possibly could, but if you feel that anything is irrelevant or missing, please do not hesitate to drop a comment below.
This is the first part to the Unit "Demonstrate understanding of customer service" and to have a look at Part 2 of this unit, please follow the link below:
In order to work in a customer service role, one needs to demonstrate a good understanding of customer service. This includes meeting customer expectations, looking into financial and other resource limitations, a thorough understanding of the organisation's service chain, the power of teamwork in delivering good customer service, contribution of customer service leading to best value in the market, advantages of being competitive, providing excellent service even when there are limitations in the organisation, dealing with different customer behaviour and personalities and finally effective communication.
By the end of this unit, candidates will be knowledgeable on the above areas and will have gained more ideas and strategies to deal with customers and to be an effective customer service candidate.
3.1 How does your organisation's service offer meet customer expectations?
Our organisation together with other partner organisations which include the Police department, the Fire department, the Health department, the Education department and also the Town & Parish Councils, works towards community engagement. They work towards understanding the needs and issues of the citizens and also get them involved in the decision making process.
As of now, the financial resources are very limited and customers are encouraged get more things done by themselves for example even assessments are sometimes done by themselves. This will help the organisation decide on clients who are actually eligible for services and the organisation itself will be able to provide services for the needy.
3.2 How is your organisation's service offer affected by financial and other resource limitations?
Our organisation wants every resident to have a safe, meaningful and quality life. To implement this, our organisation brought in a personalisation scheme, which was aimed at transforming people’s lives. This focuses on enabling customers and carers to take control of their own lives, find solutions and promotes independent living. Personal budgets are provided for eligible clients in partnership with health, housing, transport, leisure and other voluntary and independent organisations.
Our organisation focuses on quality services by spending less, which can only be obtained by carefully designing a pathway for care and also through help from partnership staff and organisations.
Our organisation initially cut down on employees and their salary in order to save money, but later on this proved lethal to social work practise as there were not enough staff to handle the referrals that came in every week / month, and as a result of that, the organisation has looked into areas of error where the organisation was losing money and has now started working alongside partners to save money and provide quality service for its clients.
3.3 What impact might your organisation's service offer have on different people in the service chain?
When we look at service chain, it includes everyone, right from the organisation, down to managers, social workers, clients and their families / relatives.
For example, if a referral comes in for some services, because a relative who was looking after the client fell ill, it will have an effect on the client and the relative. Also, when the quality of service deteriorates, or slows down, the organisation will be questioned and will have to be responsible for handling any serious after effects of poor service.
To avoid these problems, a generalised service has to be implemented by the organisation, where all clients will be able to access required information, or be provided with required information or signposted in the right direction. The organisation should intervene as early as possible to avoid crises and control situations from becoming severe, for example avoiding hospital admissions. Ways to avoid critical situations are, home care, respite services, extra care housing and use of assistive technologies.
3.4 How do customers form their expectations of the services and products?
Customers are the backbone of any organisation. What customers think and feel about a company is the main aspect of success for an organisation.
Customers think and research a lot before buying a product. So an organisation like ours has to closely monitor the neighbouring organisations to see the quality of service they provide. Customers always expect quality service at affordable prices. They also look for variety. So an organisation has to be creative in their products and services so that customers have a variety to choose from according to their needs and interest for a better quality of life. So in order to be successful, the organisation has to have a clear understanding of the customers and their expectations.
Understanding customer needs
3.5 Why is effective teamwork important for the delivery of excellent customer service?
Creating a good team and then working together to maintain effective team work is not an easy task.
A musical instrument is what comes to my mind when I think about a team. All the strings have to be tuned up to sound perfectly in unison.
Similarly all staff in a team have to be trained and work together putting aside all the differences, and that will make a big difference to the quality of work performed.
In order for a team to perform well, each individual in the team has to perform well. You need to learn to compromise, to adjust and negotiate for a common solution to any problems. This team work will affect the overall performance of the organisation.
When providing customer service, employees have to be properly trained so as to enable them to work closely with the team and as part of the team. So when resolving problems, you do not need to sit down and think by yourself, you can seek the help of others, because one cannot always solve all problems that arise in customer services all by him/herself . Also taking a decision as a team is safer than taking individual decisions. That way decision was made by a group rather than an individual, which will be error free.
A clear example of team work is, if a worker deals with a client, and says that they will get back to them with a solution within a week, and if the worker goes off sick or leaves the organisation for some reason, when the client comes back with the query again, any other worker should be able to deal with that. The systems and communication skills have to be developed in such a way that information is available for anyone to deal with an angry or upset or needy client.
Now in order to achieve this, all staff in the service chain have to be trained, I mean well trained. The basis for all this is communication. Where communication breaks, everything comes to a halt. Customers do not classify workers or employees of a company individually; they instead look at the business as a whole unit, as one entity. So a log of all communications in the central database is necessary for everyone in the team and the organisation to perform better.
3.6 How does customer service contribute to best value in a public sector?
Customer service is all about serving the customers. So the more you look after the clients and the best you serve them, the better will be the organisation’s public profile. Considering what our organisation does, we constantly deal with and speak to customers either over phone or face to face. So you need to maintain that professionalism and at the same time take into account the problems of customers and the way they feel. You have to put yourself in their shoes and listen and decide on actions and services.
I have experience working with the public now for almost 7 years. I have worked with a pharmaceutical company where we constantly had to deal with wholesalers and retailers, check quality of products and then also the validity and life time of medicines. I then worked for a retail company, where we had to deal with all types of customers over the phone and face to face. Currently working for the government, we get to deal with a lot of customers from a diverse background based on culture, traditions, ethnicity, race and others. We need to be really sensitive while dealing with their issues and every referral made is different from the other one.
Years of experience working with different companies, working with different people and working on different roles has brought in the experience and knowledge I have right now. The manners and personal ethics are qualities that grow along with your experience and this is what makes the customer feel that we genuinely care for them.
We need to think of a situation as to how we as a customer wish to be treated, and we have to treat our customers better than that to achieve excellence in the field of customer service. We need to put in our heart and soul into the job that we are doing to genuinely bring that quality service.
3.7 How can customer service provide a competitive advantage for a commercial organisation?
For a commercial organisation customers are very important. An organisation cannot sell anything unless they have customers. In order for an organisation to run business, they need to buy customers, and we need to be better than our competitors in order to achieve that.
Customer service is the foremost thing that is essential in attracting customers, and hence we need to satisfy our customers’ needs in a qualitative way and above all we need to be loyal to the customers. All these put together contributes to excellent customer service. By providing an excellent service, we attract more customers, because customers tell about our excellent service to other people who they know and the chain thus continues, which is the best way of marketing.
To attract more customers, we need to keep up our promises and commitments, making sure the services are delivered on time. That way the customer will not look back to move to a different company. Give customers a variety of choice to suit their needs, and stay in touch with them about service updates, taking constant feedback at regular intervals and going forward to helping them to improve the quality of service.
3.8 Why does your organisation limit the customer service provided giving balance to customer satisfaction, with organisational goals?
Customer service limitations mean doing the best service for the right people. It is providing service for the people genuinely in need. Our organisation limited customer service since late 2010. It was not that service was limited for customers, but in fact services were assessed thoroughly so that only the genuine clients received service.
For example, many clients had the habit of getting into permanent residence in a tricky way. They initially request for respite stay when discharged from hospital, and then bring up the issue that they are not fit to return home and then ask for extended respites and eventually request for permanent residence. Our organisation picked up this pattern and then worked this alongside the hospital team and brought up the idea that, clients should not be discharged from hospital if they are not well enough to return home. That way money spent on unnecessary permanent care was saved.
Our organisation also looked through high care packages, reviewed them and limited the amount paid towards care, as many clients were just claiming money for care, because they simply thought they were eligible, which was not right. Also clients who had long term health issues had to be funded by health, so working alongside the health partnership, our organisation is saving money.
So by looking through the loopholes and sorting out realistic problems, our organisation has saved money and is achieving its goals. An organisation needs to be in focus on what can be offered to customers in good quality and keep by that to achieve its goals.
What does good Customer Service mean?
3.9 How do you deal with different customer service behaviours and personalities to achieve customer satisfaction? Give at least two examples
As an organisation and especially in the customer services department, we get to see and talk to people with different behaviour and personality every day. We see people with difficult behaviour and personalities, some with a pleasant behaviour, some angry customers, some moody customers, some shy and uncomfortable customers and many others. In order to deal with people / customers with variety of behaviours and personalities, you need to first learn to stay calm and deal with it in a clever and effective manner. Just because a customer is angry and shouting doesn’t mean we can shout back at them. We in turn need to be polite and tell them in a calm manner that we will have to end the conversation if they did not speak or act appropriately.
According to the dictionary, “Behaviour is defined as the way a person behaves towards other people and Personality is defined as the complex of all the attributes--behavioural, temperamental, emotional and mental--that characterize a unique individual”
To deal with customers with different personality and behaviour, we need to try our best to create a friendly atmosphere, where people feel free to socialise and talk freely about their needs and the help they require. We do not need to take abuse or swear from customers. If a customer is angry, try your best to stay calm and resolve the problem. Find out what their needs are, the reason behind their anger and be firm and fair with them, and not let them become violent. You should also explain the company’s policy against violence, to the customer.
When you have upset clients, regularly acknowledge them and ask them what sort of help they need. This will help them voice their thoughts and also tell them that you are there to listen to them and take necessary steps and actions to resolve their problems.
3.10 Why is effective communication important for the delivery of excellent customer service?
Every organisation thrives on best customer services, because that is the frontline task and is like the backbone of an organisation. The way a company deals with its customers, the importance and values a company has for its customers makes it stand out from other organisations and competitors in that field. Customers will refer other customers to us if we are good at serving them. Customer service should not be a rule that you follow, it has to be done from your heart and it has to be made a part of your life, which will benefit you in your personal life too. You will learn to understand, respect and treat people who you come across in your life in a wonderful way.
When customer service is effective, it means you listen closely to what customers say, understand their body language or their voice or tone if over a telephone. By doing this you will be able to provide them the best and quick solutions. This will be beneficial for both you and the customer. Also what I have learned through all my years of experience in customer service is that, “The customer is always right.” This is how we have to deal with the customers, always!
When communication is at its best, your verbal, writing skills are at their best and it is easier to deliver the products effectively and on time, it is easier to sort out any issues and complaints related to customers either face to face or over telephone, or via email or online procedures.
Please follow the link below to have a look at the second part of this unit:
I hope this has been of some help to you. Thank you for stopping by. Please do not hesitate to share your experience or leave a comment below to share your views. I would really appreciate it.
All the best!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.