We Give Value and Get Payment, Then Why is Customer Service necessary?
THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE:
We make huge investments in Industry (Bottling Plants, manufacturing unit of Cylinders and Regulators, etc.) and in trade (construction of storage godowns).We bear the inherent risk, produce & supply an article of daily need to the customer on a nominal margin at market price. In fact, the customer is benefitted immensely by our efforts, which have a socio-economic importance and should be thankful to us. He pays the price for what he gets and we provide equal value. This being a reciprocal or mutual relationship, why so much stress and importance should be given to “Customer Service” and “Promotion of Customer Relations”?
To understand the correct answer to this simple question, we must know something about market economy and the system of perfect competition. We operate in a free market and under open competition. Anyone in the country, just like us, is competent enough to obtain licence, start bottling plants, appoint distributors, dealers and approach the customers to sell their product. In a monopoly business, there is only one seller for unlimited buyers & the seller becomes an indispensable person and such a market is called a seller’s market.
Conversely in our industry, it is an uneven market, where our products are priced more than the price of Govt. agencies, even though there is no difference between the quality of the gas and cylinder supplied by the public distribution system and the Parallel Marketeers. Hence the only area, where the competition can be made effective is the service to the customers. In this field we have to establish our lead and supremacy. We must provide the customer ease and convenience in the purchase of our products so that he should not have a feeling for not getting LPG cylinder properly supplied to them on time.
WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER EXPECT FROM US?
When the customer visits our office, he should be promptly heard and attended with smile by the Front Desk Officer/Marketing Executive. If someone has to wait for their turn, there must be suitable place/seat for their waiting. News papers, one or two popular regional magazines (in vernacular), attractive and educative wall posters displayed in the office so as to keep the customer engaged for sometime by drawing their attention.
In the absence of the Dealer, there should be a competent person present in the shop, who should be able to provide all the needs of the customers and the customer should never be disappointed with the statement, that the dealer is away and only after his arrival will the customer be attended to.
- There should be a convenient process to purchase our products. The consumer should have the option to place the order on phone/sms/mail/whatsapp. It should be acknowledged by quoting the customer time of supply. The dealers representative should deliver the product to the consumers at stipulated time and collect the cost of the same from their place. A domestic cylinder will have gas weight of full quantity, in no case will have weighing below the marked quantity. This will be our first principle of business ethics.
- Regulators, Petromax lights, Stoves and other items supplied by us should carry a minimum guarantee and in this period a free replacement/repair should be made. After the warranty period, after-sales service should continue, on reasonable charges. The customer should be counseled to scrap the product when deemed necessary and go for replacement. The risk in keeping out-dated accessories should be explained to the customer. (E.g. regulators, rubber tube etc.)
- Complaints regarding maintenance from the customer should be attended with equal promptitude to ensure a trouble-free service.
CUSTOMER EDUCATION AND COUNSELLING:
While marketing sophisticated products, like computer, electronic typewriter etc., the customer is generally given an initial period of free training for the use of the product. He will also be supplied with a free copy of the USER’S MANUAL and MAINTENANCE MANUAL. Our manual gives useful information such as LPG is as safe as any other fuel if handled with care and if safety rules are followed without deviation.
Safety guidelines provided on our Manual Book should be brought to the notice of the customer and he should be educated in the correct use of the product. This may be done during Ist time installation itself.
The Dealer is a member of PREMIER family and a part of it, who interacts with the Customer face-to-face and performs his duties very well, as explained above.
CUSTOMER SERVICE & THE DISTRIBUTOR:
In the extension of customer service, while the dealer is the actual player in the field, the distributor is like an Umpire. He steps-in as an additional care-taker to the needs of the consumer. He also steps, if the customer feels that there is a gap in the service provided by the dealer as well as make the customer aware of our CSD service.
- When a consumer becomes part of PLL family by booking a new connection with dealer, the distributor will send a thanks letter to the customer and also introduce the CSD (Complaints & Suggestions Desk) facility at his office for the benefit of the customer. The customer will be provided the name, address and contact number of the distributor and invite to address his complaints, and any suggestion for the improvement of our service. The consumer may address such complaints & suggestions by letter, by telephone or orally by visiting to the Office.
- The CCD Facility(Customer Caretaking Desk) facility
Under this facility the initiative emnates from the side of the distributor, while in the CSD facility, complaints/suggestion emanates from the customer. Every day, the Distributor operating the CCD facility will contact 10 customers at random, and introduce the CCD service to them. Then he will enquire; if the customer is satisfied with our service or facing any problem. Customers contacted and messages exchanged will be recorded in a CCD register. In a week, minimum 60 customer, representing 3 customers from each Dealer, should be contacted under this facility, by way of sample analysis.
Once a customer has been contacted under this facility, he will not be contacted again for a minimum period of six months. The efforts should be to cover new customer instead of revolving on same set of consumer.
CUSTOMER SERVICE & MARKETING DIVISION
At the level of the Marketing Division of the company, customer service is handled with R & D approach. The dealer handles 500 customer, the distributer upto 10000, while at the apex level the company has to reflect the sensitivities of our customers in millions & lakhs.
The source of data for understanding the customer is the information that we get regularly from the distributors and dealers.
There will also be complaints counter at the Marketing Division of the company. Customers who refers a complaint with area distributor and fails to get a proper response to their complaint within a period of 10 days, will approach the complaints section of the Marketing Division, who will act on the complaint promptly, if considered necessary, by deputing a representative to the customer to redress the customers grievance on spot after verifying the facts.
Company will at its level identify the Dealers and Distributors who maintain their services at zero percent or complaint free service (a complaint made by a customer and quickly withdrawn by him, by providing a satisfaction certificate on the basis of clarification/assurance, will not be deemed as a complaint). However, such satisfaction letter should be dated within 7 days of the date of the complaint, excluding the date of complaint.
From time to time the Company will consider incentive schemes, gift schemes, etc to the distributor/dealer based on their business promotion and effectiveness of customer service. These will be advised to the dealers/distributors through circular/letters/mails from the marketing division of the company.
It is the policy of the company to create an extended structure of its own area offices and field level marketing staff. Our emphasis will be to develop our distributors establishment, which should serve as our area establishment. We have de-linked the distributor from day-to-day operational load of attending to the customers and reserved them as a promotional and development centre. The Company will have a team of qualified staff with working experience in sales promotion, conducting field level studies, working out incentive schemes, organizing media publicity and field publicity etc. and also technically qualified persons. This team will constitute the mobile wing of the company, who will periodically visit the establishments of the distributors & dealers & conduct flying audits and submit report at PLL headquarters.