Customer Relations and the Diversity Challenge: A Trainer’s Guide
The importance of customer satisfaction can not be overemphasized and a satisfied customer certainly can never be overvalued. A single dissatisfied customer can have a significant negative impact on an organization. Customers who feel employees are indifferent to their needs go elsewhere or spread harmful statements, thereby discouraging potential new business. On the other hand, satisfied customers can have a significant positive impact on an organization’s overall performance and profits. Not only will these customers remain loyal, but also they will encourage new business by telling others about the fine customer service they have received.
Meeting customer needs and providing quality service is a serious challenge at any time. However, the challenge facing providers of products and services in virtually every organization today is even greater because of the changing population in the United States. The increasing diversity of the population is dramatically changing the value of the “customer” and the definition of customer service. The customer base has changed and will continue to do so.
Major changes in demographics have brought a new look as immigrants now come from more different countries than ever before, bringing new languages and different cultural values.
Organizations and their employees who are aware of these differences have a competitive advantage. Understanding the new customer, and strategically aligning products and services to meet these needs, will reap benefits. Customer loyalty based on greater satisfaction will bring repeat business and potential new customers.
Understanding who these new customers are is a start in addressing the link between customer satisfaction and diversity. However, there are additional challenges. Individuals in customer service must begin to examine their own feelings and attitudes about customers who may be different from themselves. They must learn how to address the perceptions and biases they may have. They also need to learn how to be more open, respectful, and responsive to customers whose backgrounds and values may be unfamiliar. It is particularly important to understand that the meaning of “good service” has different connotations in different cultures. The more that service providers know about their customers and culture, the better customer relations will be.