The importance of excellent customer service
With a proven track record in supplying the highest quality accommodation, Portakabin hires and sells permanent and relocatable buildings. Clients include hospitals and schools, government ministries, universities and major business players such as Sony, Vodafone and Tesco. Its mission statement, as stated on its website, is: ‘To provide peace of mind for our customers across Europe through quality buildings and services’. It is the leading brand in this market with 16% of the UK market. The field in which Portakabin operates is highly competitive with strong players. Portakabin therefore has to work hard to stay market leader, and maintains its position by making sure it has quality products and customer service. It has built a premium brand, based on a good reputation of providing high quality products and excellent service levels. If a company wants to be a leader in its sector it must exceed the minimal requirements, to differentiate itself from its competitors. It has the expertise and resources to deliver modern, attractive buildings quickly, efficiently and exactly to the needs of the client. This means providing handy and secure ways for the customer to pay, a local service and ease of contact.
02_What is customer service?
A business cannot exist unless it has customers to buy the products it wants to sell. Customer service is the term used to describe what happens at the points at which the customer comes into contact with the business. Usually it is split into four parts:
This could be given by staff or be provided in other formats (such as leaflets) with the product.
This could be about the best or safest way to use a product, or specialist advice that might be needed. For Portakabin this could be the ability to provide all the services that make a quality working environment and full technical support.
In the case of Portakabin, this includes delivery of modules, levelling, the installation of fixtures and fittings, subsequent advice on future building requirements.
This Case Study focuses on how Portakabin keeps its competitive edge by making sure it provides not just good, but excellent, customer service. The company’s motto is ‘Quality – this time, next time, every time’ and this is applied as much to its customer service levels as it is to the products it provides.
process of buying or hiring a building, from a single office building to a complete school or medical centre. The importance of good customer service can be seen at all stages, beginning with the initial customer’s enquiry, followed by a quotation and the drawing up of contracts.
At Portakabin, customer service is key during the
It continues with the delivery of the product and the after-sales service. Portakabin has unique Customer Charters for its sales and hire customers. These set out, in detail, the high levels of service that customers can expect. These include: • completion of every project on time and to the agreed contract sum • a service response within 24 hours from the customer services team • picking up the phone within four ‘rings’ – and by a person, not an automated system • a response or visit within 24 hours of a request • to be included in the customer care programme.
Customers can be either internal or external. Internal customers are people within the business who depend on other parts of it. For example, continued good sales (in the sales department) may depend on the quality of the product (in the production department). External customers are those who come to buy products. Portakabin knows that if its internal customers deliver excellent service, external customer service excellence will follow – each member of the business is able to contribute to better service. To this end, each department has been encouraged to create its own...
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