Customer Relations in the Co-op

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Bagbaga-am man isuda Attorney” (Please advise them, Attorney) said one texter referring to the employees in his or her co-operative.

In our regular weekly radio program, for three consecutive episodes and counting, we have received a number of texts from our listeners complaining about undeserved treatments and discriminatory behavior shown by co-operative employees to some member-owners. We don’t know if these texts came from one dissatisfied customer against one specific co-operative employee or merely misinterpreted one actuation of a particular employee. We do not have knowledge of these encounters since nobody attempted to react or defend these employees regarding these allegations. However, grievances like these has to be addressed for learning purposes.

So this should not be interpreted as an answer to some member’s woes of one particular co-op. Let us view this in general terms and application. The point is, it is high time for co-ops to require their employees to undergo training on customer relations. Sometimes, good human relations have to be acquired. We are not all gifted with it. But the good thing is, it can be learned. Besides, work has become stressful now a days and a lot of employees are scrambling to have a work-life balance which in turn affects our relations with other people if left unchecked.

Although there is no fixed rule, customer satisfaction is always a primordial consideration in any business establishment where co-ops, I believe, should observe a higher standard. Co-operatives are expected to give better service than other business entities because their customers are not merely customers but owners and should properly be treated as such. Co-operative employees should not act as if they are situated in a higher position than the owners. Their jobs are actually dependent on their customer-members.

Customer satisfaction is about offering a genuine smile. It is about offering a warm greeting or strong handshake giving your undivided attention to make them feel welcome and look at them in the eye. Because this is what people complain about the most. They don’t feel connected to the employees.

This is not about the customer being always right. It is about entertaining the customers so that even if their needs are not met, they will come out smiling and feeling satisfied. It is about engaging in a conversation and seeing to it that you do something for them even if they are looking for the manager who happens not to be around. Don’t just end the conversation by saying the manager is not here. Go the extra mile.

Someone also complained about discrimination. The ones with those having more money in the co-op receive a different treatment and given priority as against those who have less. Employees should always be reminded that member-owners are on equal footing despite the amount of shares each one has. And one more important thing, they should not underestimate their customer-members by their appearance.

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