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Customer Service workshop (18-19 April) (Manila)

(from my "Trailblazer" column in the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

The internet is rife with memes and listicles that provide examples of how “simple” customer service has either brought companies down to their knees or completely pulled them out of obscurity to enjoy their moment in the spotlight. These examples expose the sad truth that in a world where people constantly “communicate,” the actual human connection is often left out - which is why encountering excellent customer service is hailed as a miracle, while receiving negative customer service is considered the norm.

Now more than ever, whether or not you’re in the service industry, effective customer service will always be essential to achieve sustainable success. This is why adjusting to different personalities and fully understanding their concerns are keys to delivering quality service, while recognising that adding that little pinch of extra value can spell the difference between losing and retaining your client.

We spoke to Mondo Castro, a training and management consultant who has worked with some of the top Philippine companies over the last 20 years, for his insights on what it takes to build a culture of true customer service:

Why should companies have a customer service culture? Isn’t this just limited to client-facing professionals, such as sales people?
Numerous studies on the most successful companies and individuals have concluded that customer service is one of the most vital cogs in ensuring excellence and profitability. More often than not, these entities have taken steps toward evolving beyond the outdated precepts of customer service, including the mindset that customer service is strictly the domain of front-liners. We are all capable of rendering service to others, regardless of position, industry, and environment, because it’s all simply about engagement.

Isn’t it expensive to implement such a culture? What kind of benefits or returns can a company expect from creating this culture?
I believe that creating and nurturing a culture of customer service is actually less expensive in the long run than not having one at all. We already know that it is statistically more expensive to acquire new customers than to maintain existing ones, so making sure that your customers stay loyal requires a culture that strives to add value to the overall experience. Companies with rich service cultures enjoy the benefits of an improved quality of life for its people, decreased attrition and costs, and better engagement with customers and stakeholders, who ultimately enjoy a meatier bottom line.

What are typical roadblocks that companies face when they try to adapt a customer service orientation? How can they overcome these?
It all starts with the mindset; the mindset needs to be changed from the top of the organisation. The leaders must set the example, and the challenge is to be consistent, until it eventually becomes totally ingrained into the minds and hearts of all employees - from top executives to the doormen. Only then can they reap the full benefits of having a customer-centred mindset and culture, with learning and strategy development being drivers for continued success.

(Mondo is also a restaurant entrepreneur and specialises on topics relating to customer service, sales and communications. The Inquirer Academy will be offering a workshop to be facilitated by Mondo entitled: “Effective Customer Service As Your Competitive Advantage: Building Your Culture of Customer Service” on April Protected content , 2016, to be held at the Inquirer Academy Building, Don Chino Roces Avenue corner Ponte Street, Makati City.

This workshop is highly recommended for department heads, sales managers, team leaders, and supervisors, customer service representatives and managers, sales and account executives, freelance professionals, and entrepreneurs. For more details, you may write to Protected content or call Protected content , and look for Astrud de Castro. You can also register online through Protected content