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Given the reality of recessionary conditions in our economy, businesses are likely to suffer declines in volume of sales as well as profits. These prospects do not have to become manifest to the point of business failure if businesses will take some time to review their operations for achieving cost efficiencies and in my view more importantly, customer loyalty. There will be no business without customers and at that loyal customers. It is true in my view that in a recession businesses will have to trim their profits. This is inevitable since consumers are going to cut back spending and look for the best prices even on essentials. But even having done so the ability to ride out a recession will depend on gaining customer loyalty from existing customers and also attracting new customers. A key factor in the answer to business survival will be customer loyalty.

Unfortunately, in T&T we have not mastered the art of service excellence. Because of boom conditions, as business houses we have been exhibiting a “luke warm” attitude to service excellence not realizing that the customer has been taking note. Many business outfits tend to, ignore the “small value” customer and live with the mentality that it is the heavy spending customers who matter. In business all customers matter. The small buyers may eventually become the big buyers in the future. Business people tend to also forget that customers also have choices and will exercise it. The customer today has travelled and has a fair idea of what excellent customer service is all about and will be prepared to pay for it if it is delivered with consistency.

In this regard business entities can learn from an organization like Texas de Brazil in Movie Towne or 2001 carpet House on Ramsaran Street, Chaguanas or Value Optical in Mid Center Mall. A study of these companies will tell you why customers go back to them over and over.

On the other hand, there are businesses in this country who do not care about service delivery.

In a recession new customers have to be attracted and existing ones have to be maintained. In other words businesses need a “maintenance strategy” for retaining and growing business volumes.

One good example of an organization which is stepping up to the plate is Chaguanas Auto Suppllies with whom I have had to interact over the last month. Their approach and attitude has improved considerably to the point where I will be doing repeat business with them.

The ability to deliver improved service depends on firstly recognizing that we need the customers’ business and secondly going the extra mile to create satisfaction. In lean times customer service will define the winning organizations from those that will lose.

Suruj Rambachan

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