“Most people take a customer as someone who buys their product or service but from the strict business perspective, a customer is not just the person that patronizes your business” said Dr Biodun Adedipe
Dr Biodun Adedipe of B. Adedipe Associates Limited who was a guest speaker at event said Often times however, the management and staffs of many organizations do not act accordingly. They on many occasions forget that their organizations exist for the customers; not even the founder, shareholders and directors, he added.
Dr Adedipe stated this while delivering his paper titled ‘Prioritizing Excellent Customer Services in Insurance and Pension Business: Issues and Prospects’ at the 6th BusinessToday annual Conference held yesterday at Ikeja, Lagos.
Let me put this in perspective very quickly. Dr Adedipe said for governments and their agencies, they exist for the citizens and all the entities that are impact by their decisions, choices and actions. Social impact is a paramount metric for measuring their performance and effectiveness, For profit-seeking entities, they will achieve their profit motive and remain sustainable if the customers repeatedly patronize them, paying values higher than the cost of the products and/or services delivered to the customers and For not-for-profit, the value delivered to beneficiaries is the basis for attracting donations and grants.
The theme for Conference: ‘Prioritizing Excellent Customer Services in Insurance and Pension Businesses’, is very apt and timely while he further gave details by said let me even go more specific for profit-seeking entities, for which I have an accounting proof of how strategically important customers are to their survival and sustainability. Without the customer, the best financial outcome of a profit-seeking entity is a loss!( Simply put, no customer, no income (at best income arising out of the investment of the excess of equity over non-current assets) but expenses will arise every day the business remains in operation!) and That now brings me to the focus of today’s conference – insurance and pension business.
That now brings me to the focus of today’s conference – insurance and pension businesses which both of them are peculiar in the sense that they have triple bottom-line:
- Gross income
- Social impact
He added that Insurance enables entrepreneurial risk taking and loss recovery for the risk-vulnerable, while pension assures sustenance after active service life.
Adedipe noted that the Customer is Purpose of Business “To create and keep customers in a cost-effective manner.” This puts business down to three things: Get the customers, Keep the customers and Cover the Cost of doing both, with something left to show for the efforts, he stressed.
He listed 8 steps for any who determine to know ‘Who is the Customer? And the 8 steps are:
- Most people take a customer as someone who buys their product or service.
- From the strict business perspective, a customer is not just the person that patronizes your business.
- The right definition of customer must recognize that a company remains a going concern if customer patronage is repeated over and over again.
- As such, a customer is a person or organization that chooses to buy your product or service, preferring you to your competitors.
- As a follow-up, s/he pays for the service rendered.
- Most importantly is that s/he perceives that the value in your product/service is greater than or equal to what s/he pays for it.
- Any wise businessperson will work hard to build and sustain customer loyalty, which begins at creating an awareness of your brand and your product offerings.
- It is stepwise, as illustrated in the consumer buying cycle.
Dr pointed out that “Excellent customer service is fundamental to every organization, public or private, profit-seeking or not-for-profit” therefore in order for business to attracts Excellent Customer Service, he said the fundamentals of excellent customer service below show strictly follow, include:
- Clear understanding of who your customer is.
- The problems that customer want you to solve for them.
- How, where and when they want those problems solved.
- What they are willing to pay happily for the solutions offered.
- How much they value your relationship with them.
- You must be able to answer in clear terms the questions of:
- What is most important to different customer categories?
- How can we deliver repeatedly beyond the expectations of those customers?
- Can we build our entire strategy, systems and operations around the customer?
Including below short-list:
- Prompt claims settlement (underwriters) and payment of entitlements (PFAs)
- Exceed expectations
- Friendly and warm
- Short response and turnaround time
- Recognition and importance (wise handling of the 80:20 rule
- Effective communication
- User-friendly technology and others interface
The doctor pointed out that Key to Service Excellence involved Relationship Management which according to “Any company interested in customer relationship management should not only listen to its customers, but respond to what it hears by mass customizing its goods, services or experience.” By Joe Pine, author of ‘Markets of One’
He noted that It is more difficult and costlier to start relationships than to maintain them (The cost ratio is one to five). Equally, relationships can easily weaken or fizzle out if they are not nurtured (Competitors will capitalize on this vulnerability to take your customers.). Strong relationships translate into greater business volume (Through). Repeat purchases + new introductions (Which over 10 years can translate into 14 times current business volume and But you can shorten the period!) etc.
Adedipe in brutal Truth said “You need the customer (The customer does not need you). The customer has feelings (S/he is a human being and not a physical asset). The customer has a choice (S/he can choose you or somebody else.) and The customer is not a competitor (S/he is not out to ruin your business)”
Accroding to him, Gerson listed out ten service commandments as follow:
- Customer is the most important.
- Customer does not depend on your organization.
- Customer is not an interruption.
- S/he does you a favour by contacting your organization.
- S/he is a part of your organization.
- S/he is not a cold statistic.
- The customer is not someone to argue with.
- Customer’s needs, wants and expectations must be satisfied
- The customer deserves the most attentive, courteous and professional treatment
- The customer is the lifeblood of your business
Dr Adedipe reiterated saying People are important to every entity, whether public or private and they are our contact point, they are the ones we market, and they are the real buyers.
He said the people that insurance companies and pension administrators service are central to their existence, survival and sustenance. Managing their perceptions will make or mar the practice, as such perceptions determine the choices and decisions that those customers make, he concluded.