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Customer service view

Stephen Hollings, Commercial Director of The Shield Group, writes on the importance of customer service in a major recession. He has over 25 years of experience, from holding two senior positions within security firms.

The global recession has made it even more important to retain customers. To increase sales and maintain the interest of the customer in your brand, it is essential to have customer service skills intact ensuring that even if the product/service is not at its cheapest, the level of high service will ensure the customer continues to return to the service provider.

Many businesses also seem to be driven by cost reduction programmes, and this is having a major negative effect on employees which then affects the level of customer service provided. So by trying to reduce the costs in house, it is inadvertently further reducing sales, as customers are not encouraged to purchase the service or products because of the high costs and lack of customer service.

Engaging, training and developing staff is often put on hold and overlooked as many business owners tend to focus on how to increase sales, forgetting that efficient customer service is essential for increasing sales. They are at the centre of customer retention and, if neglected, can have a negative impact on sales. Without continued investment in customer driven programmes employee skills will fade and become inconsistent.

Office phones that are not answered due to a lack of staff and retailers with insufficient numbers of staff to talk to and assist shoppers, all erode customer satisfaction and completely eradicate customer retention. This can also be caused by off-hand staff, frustrated by shift changes and benefit cuts which then tend to take out their frustrations on the customers.

The internet has opened up huge choice for both businesses and customers, making it even harder to retain customers. But as customers do not have high expectations of customer service when shopping online since there is limited or in some cases no physical interaction, unless they call the hotlines. The huge deterrence there will be when, again, there is not enough staff to answer the phones to assist customers. However, businesses that have invested in optimum customer service and get it right, have survived and are flourishing.

Given all of this, the highest levels of customer service given to customers will always reflect positively in sales, even if the cost of service has been affected by the recession.

About Stephen Hollings, The Shield Group

Stephen Hollings was been appointed as Commercial Director of The Shield Group, formerly known as The Shield Guarding Company Ltd. The company spoke of a move to transform the provision of security services away from a commoditised approach to a more innovative, streamlined and specialist security service, under a total security solution business structure. Four new business verticals comprise:

The Shield Guarding Company – Manned Guarding, Event Management, Police Support Services, Mobile Patrols, Alarm Response, Keyholding, Concierge & Reception Services, Executive Protection

Shield Systems Limited – CCTV, Access Control Design and Installation

Shield Monitoring and Systems – CAT 2 NSI Gold standards monitoring of Customer premises including lone worker management; and

Shield Consults – Security Consultancy, Investigations Risk and Threat analysis, Corporate Screening

He held two senior positions within Reliance Security Services, firstly as Sales, Marketing and National Director, leading the senior sales team to win several multi million pound accounts over four years, and was Managing Director of Reliance Security Solutions.


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