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(File pix) Businesses can benefit more by offering fast solutions to loyal customers. Image courtesy of Says

I conducted a service excellence training programme for BRDB Developments Malaysia this week.

The company began its journey of building iconic communities over fifty years ago. Its projects in the rubber estate that became the affluent residential suburb of Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, are very iconic.

I spent two days with an effervescent and rambunctious group of sales and support people. The focus of the programme was to truly understand the role service, in the ever changing property market landscape, and under the prevailing economic climate.

The programme discussed new ideas and modern strategies. But, I helped the participants understand that at its core, outstanding customer service is innovative, positive, precise and timely.

Through my businesses, consulting experience, and training programmes, I know that there are two principles that make some customer service professionals stand out, head and shoulders above others.

The first is that you need to actually listen, and only then respond. This idea sounds so rudimentary, but you would be surprised at how often it is forgotten.

Set aside your own prejudices and truly listen to your customer. They need you to respond to them in the manner they choose and at a time that suits them.

Effective listening is the basis for any customer interaction. It is one of the most powerful tools available for turning any experience, especially a negative one into a positive.

In reality, behind every customer query, demand or complaint is a real person, looking for guidance or a solution to a problem.

The second principle is that you must make everything effortless and seamless for the customer. You must deliver a personal service that is fast and requires low-effort for the customer.

If you can always respond to service inquiries as quickly as possible, by using all available technology at your disposal, like your social media feeds, emails, texts or over the telephone; it guarantees a memorable experience for your client.

None of us appreciate being put on hold, or having to speak to an answering service, or having to wait indefinitely for a member staff to answer the phone.

Consumers expect you to make it easy for them to do business with you.

This week, I was in a situation that confirmed my belief that these two principles are at the foundation of an outstanding experience for a customer.

I have banked with CIMB Bank Berhad Malaysia for more than a decade now. My association with the bank started when I was hired to conduct training programmes for their staff at various levels.

The day after the training programme I mentioned above, I had to deal with a personal banking crisis.

My erstwhile travel agent called me to say that a payment I made hadn’t been honoured. I panicked, with my initial reaction being that someone had looted and emptied my bank account.

I called the bank’s customer service helpline, and it wasn’t long before I speaking with an customer service agent. I was attended to efficiently and was told that my account had a “technical” problem that they could not disclose over the phone.

This was not much help for me as I was quite flustered. But, the agent was clear, considerate and most importantly, calming. He explained quite patiently that I had to speak with my branch, directly.

I then decided to reach out to Ruhaini Yahya, a senior manager at the bank, whom I had trained years ago. I had not seen her in a really long time, but I reckoned she would support an old friend.

She was sympathetic and helped me, by contacting the bank’s customer service unit, for them to assist.

I then received a phone call from an officer who talked me through the steps to resolve my problem. But, it turned out that I still had to physically go in to my home branch.

Over the years, I had been to CIMB Bank at Bandar Baru Sungai Buloh, perhaps two or three times. I got there, explained my problem and within minutes I got to meet the branch manager.

It was my first meeting with her. Nur Shahila Abdul Rahman is an efficient and articulate lady. She is, without a doubt, totally committed to offering an outstanding customer experience.

She listened very carefully to understand my problem. I noticed her taking notes diligently. After which she proceeded to call her current account officer, Zaidah Hussein to have a brief discussion about potential solutions for my issue, and she had it sorted out within 30 minutes.

She actually listened to my problem, responded in a way that helped me, and then acted with speed without requiring too much for me.

And the best part; she did this without making me feel like I was being a problem to her.

Now, isn’t that outstanding customer service? With people like Nur Shahila, Zaidah, and my old friend, Ruhaini, I will continue to be loyal customer for CIMB Bank.

Do you behave in a way that people want to be a loyal customer to you?

Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”

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