Customer relations with a human faceStarting out as a customer advisor at a Bouygues Telecom call centre outside Paris, Mathilde Esterlin then worked in the ombudsman/litigation unit for the Paris region. She loves the job, which requires her to build a rapport with customers in order to find solutions which will help retain them.
With solutions comes loyaltyThe essence of Mathilde’s mission is to ensure customer satisfaction. As part of the ombudsman/litigation unit, she works to resolve a range of customer problems and complaints. "A customer who contacts us is looking for a solution. To ensure their loyalty, we need to be in tune with their needs and respond as quickly as possible with a viable solution!".
Striking the right tone with customers
Some of the customers Mathilde comes into contact with are agitated or even angry. She therefore has to adopt the right tone to find a satisfactory solution for both parties. “We receive training in relationship and conflict management, and on how to handle emotions...it’s very useful on a personal level too!” she says with a smile. “We also have VIP customers who have their own advisors. We tend to build a closer rapport with them, which is quite rewarding!”.
Respect for the law, but not only that...
To deal with their cases, advisors in the ombudsman/litigation unit receive regular training on the legal aspects of their work. Mathilde explains: “The law is not the only pathway to resolving these disputes. We must not lose the personal touch in order to respond in a way that is adapted to each customer...” Also, so as not to lose touch with the day-to-day needs of customers, these advisors spend six hours a week answering calls to Consumer customer services. “This helps remain in contact with daily realities on the ground”, says Mathilde.
Staying in touch with developments
While Mathilde appreciates the efforts of the ombudsman/litigation unit to keep its personal touch, she also keeps track of new tools for managing customer relations: “We must adapt and be able to respond quickly on all platforms, whether on on-line chat, chatbots, social networks etc. Hopefully with the same level of efficiency that we show today!”.
When customers are happy, they say so
For Mathilde, this is the best reward, the proof that the efforts spent building a rapport with customers are not wasted. She sums up: “We regularly receive positive feedback from our customers, some even call to thank us directly! That really adds meaning and value to my work!”.
Keeping the customer in mind at every stage of a property developmentWhen promoting a property programme, the customer’s needs are omni-present for Tarek Tassali, sales manager in charge of the Grand Paris region for Bouygues Immobilier. He’s also responsible for the Bouygues Immobilier Premium brand that specialises in high-end products.
Thinking of the customer as soon as the land is boughtLA programme begins with land - a plot on which to build. Tarek’s expertise lies in this initial stage. He explains: "Alongside a Programme Manager, I liaise with an architect to carry out a feasibility study that is presented to the Vetting Committee eand I decide on the project’s viability based on the target customers...". This Committee, made up of the company’s senior executives and managers, is crucial. "Together, we define the core features of the project based on the perceived needs of the customers, the constraints of the plot and the experience that we aim to provide".
Raising awareness and persuading
At the start of marketing, Tarek must quickly determine the best promotional strategy to attract potential buyers. “Depending on the type of customer we are trying to attract - first-time buyers or investors - I develop a media strategy with the Regional Sales manager and our Marketing managers. Accurate targeting of customers is crucial to being able to develop a persuasive sales pitch...” He uses a mix of marketing strategies to suite the targeted customer: a local sales strategy (temporary sales outlet/local branch office/a BI store) and/or the use of a wealth management advisor. “It’s about tailoring the product to fit and exploiting synergies!”.
Providing made-to-measure solutions
With Bouygues Immobilier Premium, Tarek proposes top-end services to his customers. This can include an interior designer for tailored decoration of the apartment, a 24/7 E-concierge service for all residents, or even a boat, as is the case for the residents of a development on Île de la Jatte island close to Paris. “With every new programme, we ask ourselves what can we bring to our customers that is new and original ...”
Besides customer satisfaction, there is the recognition of a job well done
Tarek supports his customers right up to the signing of the notarised deed. At this point his mission is finished, even though he is sometimes invited to the house-warming party! But either way, he often has fond memories of his customers’ satisfaction. “In short, I work on life-changing projects. The dreams of my customers are my raw material...I feel that I’m bringing something beautiful into their lives. I see it in their smiles and in their eyes...”
Offering sound advice is the way to gaining customersIn her day-to-day work, Farida Lakhlef’s overriding objective is sto provide the best possible service to her customers! EThis requires good people skills, the ability to anticipate and a keen sense of what is good advice, qeven when it means saying no. As a sales manager at Aximum (a Bouygues group subsidiary), she applies these principles every day. A desire to leave the comfort of her desk and get out in to the field prompted her to take a job that would bring her closer to customers. "The goal of our work is to make the user more comfortable, dto combine safety with comfort. Direct contact with the customer in order to add meaning to my professional life was an idea that appealed to me". OShe was given the chance to become a technical sales rep for Road marking products and seized it.
Giving advice does not always mean saying “yes”As a large accounts manager, Farida knows that honesty and ethics form the basis of trust. "Being attentive to customers, understanding what is at stake and finding the most suitable solutions are the fundamentals of the customer relationship. But for me, what is absolutely essential is never to say “yes” when I know that it may not be the right answer to their needs. The solutions I offer must be serious, otherwise I and the company will lose all credibility".
Giving advice is also about providing guidanceAt the very first meeting with customers, Farida considers their needs to determine whether she should refer them to another product specialist, or another Bouygues group entity. She continues: “If a customer makes what appears to be a reasonable demand that we can’t satisfy in the short term, I make a request to my Sales & Marketing department. A working group may then be set up to consider the issue in more detail. Several opinions are always better than one to ensure the customer is offered the best possible solution!”
Giving advice also involves adapting the product rangeTo provide efficient support to customers and ensure their needs are being satisfied, Farida and her team share software that gives them an immediate overview of the products on offer. “We can see right away if there’s a suitable product that fully meets the needs of the customer. If not, we can produce one rapidly, providing the feasibility study gives us the green light.” This process is also used to build up a massive database that can be used later for other customer demands, thus creating a virtuous circle!
Farida concludes with optimism: “I have a compelling job that I chose for myself - anyone can succeed if they give themselves the means to do so.”