As important as branding and advertising is, one of the most important elements of selling a product / service is customer service. Excellent customer service puts your business ahead of the competition as it is something that is often missing from the Ghanaian business model.
The 5 Ps (more commonly 4Ps) are an old concept in Marketing however, they are still relevant especially in Ghana where a lot of companies are yet to master the basics of Marketing. Businesses tend to jump straight to digital marketing or advertising without taking a moment to fully understand their business model and industry and how their product (or service), pricing, place (online store or brick & mortar store) and people (service personnel) intertwine and affect the overall brand and ROI.
People are one of the most important aspects of the business, that is service personnel across the production line or yourself, if you are running a run man show. Customer service does not begin and end at the point of transaction and as a small business owner, you must consider the pre-purchase experience, purchase experience and post-purchase experience.
So what does this mean for your business?
Pre-purchase experience – This refers to the experience your customer has with your brand before they decide to purchase anything. Is your website appealing? Does it have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision – or are your photos outdated? How is your advertising? Are people speaking positively about your brand?
Purchase experience – This is the actual moment of transaction where you exchange the product (or service) for payment. If you run an online store, you must consider your interface – is your website easy to navigate? How does your customer pay for their purchase – do you have Mobile Money integrated? Can they use a Visa Card? There are many services in Ghana that allow you to develop a website that allows your customers to shop online. A personal favourite is Storefoundry. If you run an actual brick & mortar store, what is the ambiance like? Is it easy for customers to locate the products in your store? Are they on high shelves and do they always need an attendant to help? Is your store so small that your customers can only come in one at a time? Is your shop attendant interactive, willing to help and offer alternatives? Or are they constantly on their phone?
Post-purchase experience – This covers your follow ups and interaction with the client after the transaction. Are you bombarding them with irrelevant SMS messages and emails? If you provide a delivery service, was your delivery driver dressed appropriately?
These are a few elements to consider for the brand touch-points the customer experiences, this is by far not the half of it but I think it will get you thinking. Below are practical tips you can put into action to make sure your customer service is top notch.
- Recruitment & Training – Recruitment and training is the beginning of providing excellent customer service. Even if you are running a run man show, you need to read around on how best to provide an excellent customer service experience (training) and train yourself to always put the customer first. If you are hiring others to handle the customer interaction, make sure you hire people who know and understand the vision of the brand and are willing to be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the workplace.Personnel must also be conversant in the industry-speak as well as in the product itself, in order to serve as a sales person. Hiring the right people will allow you to build the right company culture that is well aligned with the brand.
- Go the extra mile – The data you collect from your customers serves many purposes. One of the main ones is to compile a mailing list for your newsletter but another important use would be to study your customer’s purchasing habits and stay a step ahead of them all the time. Group your customers by date of birth and send out a personal message to them via text message or Whatsapp, which has become a popular medium for business communication in Ghana. Reminding customers that you have them on your mind will make them feel involved with the brand. Get to know your customers personally, if you are running a small business this shouldn’t be too difficult in the early days. Get to know if they are parents, figure out if they celebrate religious holidays and make sure to reach out to them accordingly.
- Feedback is key – Receiving feedback from your customers at least once a quarter is important. Simple tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey are helpful for designing easy to use surveys which gives you direct feedback from your customers and clients. This way, your clients feel involved with and connected to your brand.
- Appearance – Your appearance and the appearance of your staff is one of the most important elements in building a strong brand. Ensure that staff (and yourself) look the part at all times. Customers appreciate a smile and a helping hand, as difficult as it may be on some occasions.
If you run a small business and are lost on how to get the customer service aspect of your business together, get in touch for a consultation. I can help you align the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experience for your consumer, ensuring a smooth transaction. I am also available to consult on developing the right feedback surveys as well as cleaning up and understanding your data to allow you to optimize your interaction with your customers & clients.