Vanessa Gyan, a media personality with over ten years of experience in the media space and CEO of “The Modern Day Mom”-a Mommy Lifestyle Hub in Ghana, recently shared her experience in a series of tweets about the bad customer service she received at the Accra Mall branch of Shoprite (See tweets below). According to her, she stopped at Shoprite one Friday because her son, Aaron wanted muffins. Once they got home from the mall, she gave Aaron permission to eat the muffins. Within minutes, he called and showed her the mouldy muffin which he almost ate. She reached out to Shoprite and was dissatisfied with the customer service she received. It took ranting on Twitter for her to receive a response from Shoprite SA and for action to be taken by the Ghana Food and Drugs Authority in Ghana. Vanessa’s story brought to mind my own experience with bad customer service.

About two months ago, I desperately needed to purchase a present for a friend of mine. I remembered a colleague from the University who now runs a shoe business and decided to patronise her. She sent me pictures of some shoes she had “in stock” and I chose one to purchase.  I paid her for the selected shoes and its delivery which was scheduled to happen two days from when I made payment.

Two days later, I asked her when I should expect the shoes and that was when trouble begun. She told me she was on her way to the shop where she purchases her shoes and would let me know when she buys the shoe I want and dispatches them to me. I was a little taken aback, because she had given me the assurance that she had the shoes IN-STOCK! Well, she called me soon after to inform me that the lady she buys the shoes from does not have the one I wanted so I have to choose new shoes ON THE SPOT. At this point, I was very disappointed because I expected better service from her. Sensing my disappointment, she suggested that I choose a particular shoe because it comes in a box and will look more presentable, and I obliged.

A couple of hours later, I received a phone call from the dispatch rider and went out to meet him. I opened the neatly packaged parcel to see that the “box” which was used as a compelling factor looked very old, and beaten up. To say I was dissatisfied was an understatement. In addition to all these poor conditions of service, the dispatch rider asked me payment, in spite of the fact that I covered delivery charge two days before.. As a customer, I was very dissatisfied with the service and I am yet to receive an apology or hear from her.

Customer service is the support you offer your customers — both before and after they buy and use your products or services. Good customer service gives customers an easy and enjoyable experience with your brand. A recent Arizona State University study revealed that customer service is at an all-time low which has resulted in ‘customer rage’ being at an all-time high.  The study further stated that the number of households experiencing consumer difficulties has increased to 66%—up 10 percentage points since 2017 and more than twice as high as it was in 1976. It also revealed that Businesses risk $494 billion as a result of serious customer problems and that customers make an average of about three contacts to resolve a problem, but for about 10% of respondents, reaching satisfaction took six or more attempts.

A survey by research and analysis information technology company, Forrester also found that thirty-nine percent (39%) of customers tell their friends and families about bad customer experience. This means that for every customer that has a bad experience with a company, the resulting business erosion that accompanies it can increase exponentially.

According to an article published on Forbes’ online platform titled “The Decline of Customer Service in America”, the decline in customer service can be attributed to “a lack of training and little investment in basic customer service skills, while setting sky-high sales expectations and measuring employee performance with a maniacal zeal.” In the end, it often comes down to companies not taking the time to instill core service training for all customer-facing employees.

To manage the current decline in customer service, organisations and Business Owners should endeavor to:

  1. Make customer service a business priority- Customer Service should be part of the business’ strategic plan.
  2. Find out what the customer thinks about your business and the customer service received. The feedback can then be actioned to create a better customer experience for the client.
  3. Invest in employee training aimed at cultivating customer service skills. Doing so, you will set your company apart immediately from most of your competitors.

In a time where inflation keeps skyrocketing and people have no choice than to pay more for less, the least organisations and business owners can do is to offer great customer service.