The FINANCIAL — The two most powerful words sales people can say to customers are – thank you. The truth is that in sales a simple thank you goes a long way.
Over 50 students of business schools in Tbilisi questioned by The FINANCIAL claimed that thank you is the most appreciated display of gratitude for them. The majority of them (40%) claimed that salespersons never say “Thank You”. 10% said that they are regularly thanked. 50% claimed that at pharmacies and petrol filling stations they are almost always thanked. Supermarkets are the worst in terms of business etiquette.
The first retail network of grocery and household products in Tbilisi, Populi, is actually at the top of the list of companies with the worst service. Pharmacy chain companies PSP and Aversi were named the companies with the best service quality.
“I am never thanked by salespeople. Hearing ‘Thank you’ is very important for me. Like a greeting and such at first sight, important details create a certain relationship and sense of dependence between customers and personnel,” Tamar Bzekalava, student at Caucasus University (CU), told The FINANCIAL.
Bzekalava, like the majority of students interviewed, named Populi as the company with the worst service quality and Tegeta Service Center as the best quality service provider. She blamed the management of the company as responsible for this problem.
“In one or two cases out of 10 I receive gratitude from salespeople,” claimed David Ebanoidze, student at CU. He named Bank of Georgia and McDonald’s as having high service quality and Populi as having the worst. “Front desk workers desk need regular trainings,” said Ebanoidze.
Mariam Chabukiani, student at Georgian American University (GAU), visits Goodwill, GPC and Gulf daily. Chabukiani is most satisfied with the service quality of supermarket Goodwill. In terms of bad service she named Wissol.
The majority of respondents named managers as responsible for the low service quality.
“Management and employees are equally responsible for the low quality of service personnel. In Georgia we frequently see companies who are not motivating their staff. Employees should realize the importance of individual customers and serve them properly. This is the main demonstration of appreciation that a staff member can show its customer,” Nino Adamashvili, HR Manager at Populi, told The FINANCIAL.
Service quality is monitored by several departments at Populi. “Mostly it is run by operative and marketing departments. Recently we implemented consumers’ voice boxes. They help us to gauge our customers’ opinions. We also do mystery consumer research with the help of one research company. The mystery customer method is an effective and approved way for controlling service quality,” said Adamashvili.
“Customer cooperation is not included in the labour agreement. Service standards are given in the job description. Service standards include a point which obligates staff to thank customers for visiting. Smile, concentration and help in choosing products are also important attributes,” she added.
There were several cases at Populi when the company had to fire employee for indecorous, disappointing service. “We reveal the best workers monthly and reward the winners with bonuses,” Adamashvili said.
The company has a hotline working from 10:00 to 20:00. Customers are able to get any information regarding the company from this.
“Service quality is considered low if a company fails to solve several issues; if the management of the company does not consider this task a priority and important enough to resolve quickly. High service quality is related with expenses and accordingly decisions should be made efficiently by management. Systematic monitoring or control of service does not exist. They do not take into account the results of the monitoring in the process of a staff member’s motivation, encouragement. The training of service and effective communication is not always implemented. That then means that the direct manager is weak,” said Maia Robakidze, Head of the HR Department of PSP Group.
According to Robakidze, the service quality of staff is run by a monitoring service. It incorporates 32 employees, including mystery customers.
“The rules of customer cooperation are written in positional instructions and in a special document: service standards. In this document it is described how an employee should serve the customer, including a greeting, farewell, applying formal, non-verbal elements of communication and so on,” Robakidze said.
Service personnel at PSP Group are obligated to thank customers.
“We have never fired an employee for bad conduct. There were cases when we have had to reprimand our workers and used different sanctions,” she added.
“Customers can express their dissatisfaction in the pharmacy. We have special forms in every branch which can be filled out by unsatisfied customers. Customers can also use our hotline,” Robakidze told The FINANCIAL.