Forget about how great your food is, bad employee is why customer leaves
Linh, Le Thi Cam – s3411695
(Digital Trends 2012)
‘You can never expect good customer service in Hanoi’. More than once have I heard this coming from both Hanoians and visitors, no matter how much they like street food or those served in restaurant: the staff is slow, rude, and has no intention of building customer relationship. What will happen to these businesses when new competitors come along, which they definitely will, and consumers have more choices than ever before? In people businesses like hotels, restaurants, or even advertising agencies, often is the case that how well we serve our customer is just asimportant as how good our product is (Solomon 2008).
With seventeen years of rigorous experience in the hospitality and tourism industry, Mr. Nguyen Hung Son, current Sales and Marketing Manager of Hanoi Press Club, knows exactly what it takes to bring customer service to the next level and gain a competitive edge: well-trained account managers with the right mindset. Leading one of the most important departments in client acquisition, he understands the important of having the right people representing the business. In his sharing, Mr. Son revealed the key ingredients in choosing, educating, and managing human resource to keep customers in hands in this increasingly fierce market.
What is our recruiting process?
‘You can only deliver excellent customer service when you have the right people’, Mr. Son emphasized right at the beginning of our conversation. Having been in the industry for such a long time, he understands how some become excellent account manager, while others fail to put themselves in the customer’s perspective and lack the learning attitude needed to go further. To save the time and effort, as well as avoiding unwanted customer dissatisfaction, the first step in the process – employee recruitment – is vitally important, and it largely determines the success of the business (Geller 2012).
(Computer Recruitment n.d.)
Mr. Son and his colleagues start by identifying where good employees come from: universities offering courses in hospitality were few and far between, so the talent pool is narrow but easier to approach, and those with previous experience in sales are always preferred. Then comes the interview round, which is conducted twice involving managers of different departments in the hotel to have the most comprehensive evaluation of the candidate. ‘Conversations show you a person’s characteristics and abilities beyond any well-written curriculum vitae,’ Mr. Son noted. ‘Their facial expression, eye contact, tone of voice, body language, and manner are crucial evidence of their interpersonal skill.’ The most fundamental qualities of an excellent account manager are clarity of self-expression, ability to listen and understand customer’s wants and concerns – the service mindset, as well as a positive attitude (The Marketing Donut n.d.). Since approaching potential clients is far from having them as the official customer, account managers must stay resilient and pursue long-term learning to find and acquire the right clients (HR News Daily 2012).
What do employees need in order to serve well?
(Fumat Business Solutions 2013)
Once the laborious task of finding the most potential candidates is done, the business must have the right training system to equip account managers with hand-on experience, help them understand the company’s culture, values and bar of standard, as well as knowing the particulars of the service inside and out (Mourdoukoutas 2013). ‘Having the suitable people saves you from a lot of hard work, but even the most confident account manager struggles a bit at the beginning when they know little of our product’, Mr. Son pointed out that service understanding is one of the obstacle that newcomers always face.
This explains why the first month of training is always an important foundation in one’s career. Account managers have to first know, understand, or even experience the service before having the confidence to show the competitive edge of their service to potential clients, or curtail their communication approach to suit the needs of different customers (Say 2013).
During the process, employees get to visit many other departments and mingle with colleagues through meetings and bonding events to immerse themselves in the culture of Hanoi Press Club. Mr. Son often has conversations with his new colleagues outside working time to understand their working style and provide support accordingly. He has experienced many differences in culture when employees come from different regions in Vietnam, and their ways of approaching and communicating with customers might not at first be suitable in the context of professional business. Close observation is necessary, as well as an understanding attitude.
Are we treating our people right?
The work of an account manager is stressful. Their result is closely tracked with every new client, and also every lost account. Clients change their minds within minutes, expect very highly from services like Hanoi Press Club, and always have other options even when Hanoi Press Club is one of the top choices. Chasing and serving customers are hard work, and one cannot serve well without a passion for the job (Matuson n.d.)
(Style Germs n.d.)
‘Leadership is about empowering people. I cannot follow my employees everywhere to know whether they are doing a good job, but I can encourage and motivate them to love their job, and I know even some of my best people need support once in a while,’ Mr. Son shared his belief in serving customers through empowering his employees.
To bring customers up the loyalty ladder, the passion, time, and effort an account manager puts in his / her job largely determines the outcome (Matuson n.d.). It takes months, or even years, to gain a loyal customer for Hanoi Press Club. If the account manager does not feel empowered to stay through the ups and downs with the account, the increase in turnover rate of customers is only a matter of time (Say 2013).
The sharing of Mr. Son can give many of us a whole new perspective on why companies cannot achieve more. Leave aside the quality of the product; many businesses sometimes fail to ask one fundamental question: Are we recruiting the right people who will represent our company, and are we training them well enough? Those who fail to put the hearts and efforts into finding the suitable ones should be frowned upon by even the one-time-and-gone customers. If one day you rise to the top ranks of your company, or start up your own business and want to stand out in the market as the best service provider, bear one thing in mind: it’s the people that really matters.
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