Why is it that so many organisations in South Africa just don’t get it right? Walk into many retailers and you’ll see plenty of customer services representatives hanging around, either talking to each other, fiddling with gadgets meant for customers to evaluate, or ultimately trying very hard to ignore you, the customer.

One would assume that these customer service representatives understood the basic precepts of customer service and were therefore making some conscious decision not to assist you? While this may be the case in certain instances, I suspect there is a much worse reality to this.

Customer facing employees, by and large, are drawn from the same talent pool so this would hardly explain poor performance in some organisations while other organisations seem to benefit from the better performers. These frontline staff are tasked with delivering service to the organisations customers and do this not only with a combination of their skills and experience, but with a measure of the company culture that employs them.

By this logic we can infer that the cause of poor customer service is not a result of the staff skills and experience, but rather a symptom of the organisations company culture and values. Looking deeper one would probably observe these customer facing staff being treated poorly by their management, which then becomes a learnt behaviour.

So while training, motivation, and remuneration may improve staff performance to a degree, organisations should rather look internally to their corporate culture, management and leadership in an attempt to improve customer service and ultimately customer experience.

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