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Why your business should be a 'people business'

Paul Courson, managing director of Cablofil UK, believes that we should all strive to offer a better, personal, service to our customers.

Paul Courson

We’ve all experienced it… You pick up the phone to ask a simple question and end up having to navigate through countless electronic menus, followed by several people who have no idea what you’re talking about - but are keen to tell you how important and valued you are! – before you finally get put through to someone that can actually help! Is there anything more annoying? And, really, is there anything more unnecessary?

I believe that this is a symptom of a business culture that has become accepted as inevitable. But really, it doesn’t need to be this way. In the race to be more competitive too many companies have sacrificed genuine, responsive, personal service and with it the ‘extra mile’ ethic that would give them a far greater competitive edge than a fancy CRM system or on-hold sales messages. The ‘me too’ trap of reducing overheads and head count and introducing target-driven response times and process-driven customer service protocols has reduced the customer to a name on a balance sheet. And if they are just a name, how can they really be valued?

Real personal service

For companies to really deliver on service it needs to be personal. That not only means that the customer has to be treated like an individual but that the company representative has to be prepared to follow through on any initial customer contact. In a genuine customer/company relationship, the salesman doesn’t just take the order and run; he advises on the order, makes sure it’s delivered on time and in full, follows up and stays in touch. He takes the credit if the customer comes back with a further order and takes the flak if things go wrong, stepping in personally to put things right if the customer relationship turns sour. Yes, it sounds old fashioned. Yes, it also sounds like hard work. But the reality is that businesses operated on that basis for centuries before technology gave us a less personal way of doing things. Both customers and the companies they deal with could benefit from returning to those basic principles.

While many companies will excuse their downsizing on service as a means of reducing overheads and keeping costs down for their customers, in reality, this approach can actually increase the customer’s costs! That is because those attractive ‘lower’ prices may mean delays on site because deliveries take longer or orders are wrong, with no-one taking personal responsibility for getting it right. Indeed, the quality may even be less than expected as part of the drive to offer the customer a better deal. When you look at it like that, surely, saving a few pounds here and there is a very expensive way to do business.

The irony is, that good service doesn’t have to involve a larger team, just a culture of customer care that runs throughout an organisation. In that way, customers can be confident that they will be able to deal with a real person who can answer their questions and deal with any problems. They can also trust that they will have continuity of service, being able to deal with the same person time and again: someone who knows them, understands their business and genuinely values their custom

It can be done. Here at Cablofil, we cover the whole of the UK with just eight sales managers, the majority of whom have been with us since we started nearly 10 years ago. Successful businesses are not just built on clever accounting, they are built on relationships… and that takes real people!

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