Imagine a client walking into a passport processing office to apply for renewal of her passport. The process starts online and she has all the requisite documents. A big sign at the entrance shows that it takes 5 working days for a passport renewal to be ready which puts a smile on her face. She goes in, picks a ticket and waits for her turn. After about 10 minutes, her ticket number is called. She goes to the counter where a young lady checks her documents, confirms that they are in order and sends her to another queue to have her picture taken. This is done within minutes after which the photographer advises her to check for her passport within 2 weeks.
This is where the problem begins.
“But the sign at the entrance said it will take only 5 days!” She mentions to him
“Kuna backlog. Wewe kuja after 2 weeks” (We have a backlog so come after 2 weeks) he states as he starts serving the next client.
She sighs as she puts a reminder on her phone. She waits 2 weeks and a day just to be sure she will not be disappointed. However on going back to the collection point, she is informed that the passport is not ready. She asks when she should come back and is told to come the following week. She asks the staff member serving her if they are sure that the passport will be ready by then, to which she receives a response to just come and check because they cannot tell. She further asks how else she can know the status and is, and is told to try calling or checking through their social media pages. Later she engages them on their twitter page where she is asked for her tracking number so that they can check on the status and advice. She gives them the tracking number but no response is forthcoming. It takes another 4 weeks of calls, visits and tweets to get her passport…
Now imagine another scenario where a client has a motor insurance policy with his insurance company. He gets involved in an accident and calls the company whose staff guide him on what to submit when filing the claim. He follows through and sends the claim forms. In the meantime, his car is at the insurer recommended garage for repair. He waits one week before following up only to be told that he had not submitted a form that was required. He explains that this was not in the original list communicated, and is told the claim cannot progress without it. So he looks for it and submits it, all the while complaining about the delay and lack of communication. He waits another 3 days before calling again to find out the progress. He is advised that the assessor was scheduled check on the damage on his car the next day.
The client then asks why there was a delay and is given an explanation that does not hold water. The next day he goes to the garage to ensure the assessor checks his car. By 3 pm there is no sign of the assessor. On calling his insurance company to complain, he is advised that the assessor will be there before 5pm. The assessor arrives at 6pm, checks the damage, does his estimates and says he will send the report by the next day. The client waits another 2 days before following up only to be told that the report has not been received but that follow up will be done…. By the time the report is received, the repairs authorized and done and the car released, the client has made dozens of calls to push the process along and has sworn that as soon as the claim is closed, he would be changing insurers.
These are the scenarios we and our clients face every day as we interact with government centers, and both public and private service providers and companies. The frustrations are endless. Delayed service, rude staff, timelines that are not adhered to, inaccessibility of account handlers, fake promises, requests for bribes in order to speed things along, and many more are the order of the day. Depending on how we handle the frustrations, we can threaten to leave the company, cancel an order, ask to talk to the manager, or pay to accelerate the service or even vent on social media.
Most of us here reading this blog, are in a position to help these clients in one way or another. It could be through being their point of contact and keeping them updated in order to save them trips to your offices; it could be through assuring them that a solution will be given by a certain date and not breaking that promise; it could be through listening to the customer as they vent and not tuning them away without an answer; or it could be through giving them access to the decision makers who can hasten a resolution.
Think about your role and what you can do whether big or small to assist the client that you interact with. Empathy is putting oneself in another’s shoes… so empathize with your clients and do to them what you would want done to you if you were in a similar situation. Obviously the ideal would be to get to a place where our clients do not have to make a follow up in the first place, but not too many of us work in those ideal environments, so my challenge out to you is this – You Can Make A Difference! Choose today and every day to give great service to each and every client that you serve and if you are at a supervisory level then have your team understand the difference that they can make and work with them to do so.
If we all do this our lives and those of our clients will be a little bit better. Choose To Make A Difference!
Judith Bogonko Juma
Head of Customer Service