To Have a Servant’s Heart: The Essence of Customer Service

16 August 2010 at 00:01 6 comments

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.

Lend to CEVI borrowers!

Join CEVI’s lending team and support CEVI as it strives to exceed its customers’ expectations!

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!

Entry filed under: Community Economic Ventures (CEVI), KF12 (Kiva Fellows 12th Class), Philippines. Tags: , , , , , , .

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  • 1. Fehmeen | Microfinance Hub  |  25 August 2010 at 09:24

    It’s interesting to see religious principles being applied to MFIs, but I wonder if MFIs influenced by religion would limit their outreach to serve specific communities only.

    • 2. klaungani  |  8 September 2010 at 22:35

      Fehmeen, you bring up a good point. Although CEVI is a Christian organization, they do not limit their outreach to clients based on religion. Since the Philippines is a predominantly Christian nation, the majority of CEVI’s clients are Christian, however approximately 1-2% are affiliated with other religions, such as Islam.

    • 3. Fehmeen | MicrofinanceHub  |  10 November 2010 at 23:07

      That’s good to know. Businesses based on religious principles are few and far between.

  • 4. Green dave  |  17 August 2010 at 11:54

    I wonder how many MFIs are religious based or religion plays a part in their operations including training?

    • 5. Kaajal  |  18 August 2010 at 02:45

      That’s a great question Dave. I’ve been trying to get an answer to your question but I haven’t had any luck yet. To my knowledge, no classification of the 10,000+ MFIs around the world into faith-based or secular currently exists. However, it seems that 34 of the 152 MFIs (~22%) on the Kiva website have been identified as Christian organizations. That being said, I’m not sure to what extent each MFI integrates religion into their daily operations and trainings.

  • 6. Sam  |  16 August 2010 at 22:19

    An interesting post as it show customer service in a new light.
    Thank you

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