To Have a Servant’s Heart: The Essence of Customer Service
When you’re in the business of microfinance, you’re in the business of relationship building. Microfinance institutions (MFIs) must rely on a vast network of relationships between stakeholders – clients, lenders, donors, employees, etc – in order to provide financial services to the poor and fulfill their other objectives.
Pastor Boris Joaquin, World Vision’s Director of Publics in Ministry, shared his insight on how to exceed customers’ expectations with Community Economic Ventures, Inc (CEVI) during an intensive workshop. Forty-seven CEVI staff members, including branch managers, area managers, and top management, met at JJ’s Seafood in Tagbilaran City to discuss Customer Service 101.
CEVI is distinct from other microfinance institutions in that it is a Christian organization – prayer, stewardship, and servant-hood are core values that staff members uphold. Pastor Boris elaborated on these values, explaining to the staff that when they deal with clients, they are:
1. Dealing with the image of God. Clients are created by God and therefore are extensions of God. By serving them well, the staff are serving God.
2. Using God’s resources. They therefore need to become good stewards of His resources and be responsible when managing them.
3. Serving as ambassadors of Christ. Jesus Christ is a king who died for his people, so at a minimum the staff should give good customer service to their people.
These 3 principles set the tone for the duration of the training, and as we discussed the importance of transformational relationships (as opposed to transactional relationships) in building customer loyalty, we were inspired by Biblical references.
The mood was light, filled with laughter, jokes (which Filipinos are very fond of!), and stories – the staff eager to learn about the ‘11 Powerful Keys to Excellent Customer Service.’ Through role playing and the sharing of experiences, we gained additional knowledge about how to cope with challenging customers.'
As the day came to an end, we reflected on the timeliness of the customer service training. One manager shared his experience of losing a customer, “sakit kaayo, it’s painful!” he said.
Referencing a commercial in which Manny Pacquiao (Filipino boxing champion and politician) promotes a pain relieving product, CEVI’s Executive Director Jonar Dorado followed with, “After that painful experience comes the process of recovery and healing, the process of improving. There is a change going on.”
There is a change going on in CEVI’s approach to customer service and although during my borrower visits in the town of Baclayon I received nothing but positive feedback from clients, CEVI is making strides to raise the bar in terms of customer satisfaction.
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Kaajal Laungani is a Kiva Fellow at Community Economic Ventures, Inc (CEVI) in Bohol, Philippines. She has been enjoying her time in the City of Friendship and is excited to share her experiences with you over the next 3 months!