I recently trained a group of employees of different companies in Nigeria, and one of the questions that was thrown up was the seeming difficulty of managing the ever increasing customers complaint and the frustration that this seems to generate.
My reaction was first to correct the impression that customers are difficult but rather to put its more succinctly that today’s customer is wired and dangerous they are better aware of their rights, have more information at their disposals and would not like to be taken for granted. Gone are the days that an entrepreneur runs the show and call the bluff of the customer; today competition is stiffer, it is neck breaking and when you mess with the customer you are likely going to be out of business.
Today’s customers are not just Kings that pulls the strings but they are the reason why businesses exist and must not only be satisfied but you must do everything humanly and technologically possible to please them and also exceed their expectations.

Chip R. Bell and John R. Patterson postulated that todays customer is in a hurry, they wanted more for less, they love to be pampered and would like to be treated with courtesy no matter the situation or circumstances. They understand what quality service is, they had expectations of how they should be treated and when this is deficient they are not likely to give your organization a second chance.
More dangerously, todays customers have the liberty of broadcasting their stories good or bad to a global audience just by a click at a button or by typing on the internet enabled phone. The social media has so much empowered the customers that if care is not taken they could bring down a multinational corporation just within a minute.

The case of Dave Caroll is a good lesson at hand. He flew in a United Airline plane in 2008, after a stopover in Chicago he overheard a fellow passenger complaining about his guitar; how it was badly handled by a baggage handler. He sought for whom to talk to when he did not receive any positive response after a passage of over a year, he did a song expressing his frustration and posted it on YouTube on July 24, 2009. It was a song that was less than 20 minute in duration but it caused United Airline a whopping sum of $ 180 million in share value, loss of patronage and attracted a viewing audience of over a million in less than two months and by September 2013 the song had a viewing audience of 13.3 million.
Guess what? It was a Taylor 710cc guitar that costs $3,500
It is instructive to note that todays customers would not only talk but they talk so loudly that they could be heard in all the continents of the world. Understanding customer service requires a good knowledge of psychology, human relations, emotional intelligence and basic economics.

Coping with Today’s Customers

• The very first thing to note is that without the customer there is no business. Whether you are a nonprofit organization, a religious body, an SME or a multinational organization, when your customer is dissatisfied and you do nothing quickly about it you will close shop.

• Understand, find out and research into what is valuable to your customer. It is the customer that determines what value is, and this is what the customer pays for. You may produce a high-quality product when you failed to carry the customer along such product might not survive in the market.

• Partner with your customer in product design, quality assurance, service delivery and you will get the best of them.

• Resolve their queries with speed, live for the customers and exceed their expectations. Add the extra.

• Train your staff on customer service, relationship management and the psychology of todays customers.

• Take charge of your career, invest in self-development, be professional and get certification.

In closing, when the customer is pleased the business survives. It is worthy of note that customer satisfaction is not rocket science as the very successful businesses of this world are managed by human beings and not angels.
The writer is a certified International Professional Trainer and a certified International Customer Service Professional of the American Certification Institute. He is a member of the Association for Talent Development (ATD) and a member of the Institute of Directors Nigeria.

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