Customer service versus low-cost

Customer service versus low-cost

Good manners, differentiated treatment and correctness will never go out of fashion. In these times when the priority is to reduce costs, including personnel costs, and to "lighten" the negative part of the profit and loss account in order to keep the business afloat, it is when it becomes even more important to be able to offer personalised attention capable of building customer loyalty.

With the loss of sales and customers, of course, we have to reorganise the whole conglomerate that makes up our business, touching as many areas as we can, but at the same time we have to be able to think more than ever about the customer, trying to compensate in some way for the lower performance that we will be able to offer in more austere conditions.

In order to maximise personalised customer service, there is a basic premise: the amount of time the customer spends at the service station is usually very short, and it is in this short space of time that the sale has to be initiated and future sales have to be sown.

There is therefore not much room for manoeuvre, and customer service is the main differentiating element when it comes to gaining points in the eyes of the customer. Therefore, when we find ourselves in a manned service station, customer service must be as personalised as possible. Thus, staff should direct the vehicle on arrival and, if possible, even try to call the customer by name, provide them with a complementary product or service, and offer them information without having to wait for them to ask for it.

The fact of asking them if they need anything else and being able to offer them alternatives allows us to give them a special treatment that is highly valued by many customers, who are grateful and will undoubtedly become a factor that they will consider when making a future purchase. In addition to these factors of satisfaction provided by personalised service, there are some minimum factors that customers expect to find in any service station.

Failure to meet these minimums will create a discomfort that will have a negative impact on the purchase. Among these minimums, according to all the quality studies that have been carried out recently, greetings and farewells stand out, as well as not making the customer wait and offering a clean and tidy image, both on the part of the facilities and the staff.

Other parameters that appear to be fundamental are the efficient resolution of problems, making change when cashing up, customer friendliness and showing greater interest in the task being carried out. When these minimum quality standards, which are sought after in a service station, do not appear, the customer is indifferent or it may even be counterproductive to go to a service station served instead of going to a low-cost one.

In cases where there are staff, there are often frictions or possible complaints that need to be dealt with. A complaint always arises when the customer is treated in a way that is below the customer's expectations. Complaint is a subjective concept, and therefore it is something that cannot always be predicted and managed. We must bear in mind that sooner or later a complaint will arise and we will have to deal with it.

It is essential to deal with it properly, always bearing in mind that a poorly dealt with complaint leads to an unsatisfied customer and that a well dealt with complaint can lead to customer loyalty. The process of dealing with a complaint begins with active listening, continues with serenity and ends with understanding. Asking open questions will help us to resolve the situation, never look for justifications and always avoid criticising colleagues.

Although it is not always easy, we must try to reassure the client and try to offer a successful outcome. We must commit ourselves, but always making commitments that can be fulfilled. The sum of all these details and attitudes can make the difference in achieving satisfied and loyal customers who repeat their purchases. It is in our hands to reinforce by example and manage to approach our work with this type of behaviour that makes sales more effective, builds customer loyalty and allows us to differentiate ourselves from the competition.

With these lines we only want to point out the numerous benefits that personalised customer service can bring to our business. In short, something as simple and as complex as treating our customers the way we like to be treated can make the difference that makes our customers choose our service station over those of our competitors. Joan Homedes Rojals Dmas10 service station and hydrocarbon consultants

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