10 Mins with Ifeoma Tete Mbuk – Vangaurd Allure

Mrs Ifeoma Tete Mbuk

CEO YFY Consulting Services

“YFY Consulting takes Customer Service to the next level, partners with a US based company, JoAnna Brandi & Co.”

1. How did you start YFY and what inspired the name?

I have organizational skills and I always want to see things put in their proper place. It is always exciting for me to cultivate relationships with people and make them comfortable around me. Therefore, naturally I have the flair to engage with people, build and add value to relationships. To add value whether in the workplace, groups, associations or on the home front is what inspired the name; YFY (pronounced Y.F.Y) and stands for:  Yielding value For You.


2. Why customer service?

The success or failure of any business depends on its level of customer service. In fact, it is the differentiating factor for all businesses. Additionally, customer service helps to improve operational efficiency, provide best value solutions, retain customers, minimize employee turnover and promote business growth.


3. What are some of the challenges you face running your consulting firm?

Training budgets in many organizations have been drastically reduced. The implication is that employees are not constantly exposed to new developments and better ways of delivering on corporate objectives.

Another challenge facing the consultancy business is that some operators of SMEs depend on consultants to articulate a road map and some clarity of purpose in running their businesses, especially in resolving operational frictions, yet they are reluctant to pay for agreed services.


4. Tell us about your new partnership with JoAnna Brandi & Co.Inc?

YFY Consulting has the exclusive rights in Nigeria to sell, teach, and administer tests on The Customer Care Coach program developed and designed by JoAnna Brandi and Co. Inc. This is a self-paced mastery course divided into modules. At the completion of the course, students will be given a test to show their depth of understanding and how to bring their knowledge to bear in the workplace. Certificates are issued by the US partner to successful students.


5. What have the responses been like from clients you offer your services?

Extremely positive. There is no better response than getting repeat customers.

We continue to market and network with organizations across the country to sponsor their employees on the course in order to leverage the inherent value of the program in their job.


6. What are some of your success stories?

To partner with a US company and earn the exclusivity to teach and sell their course in Nigeria is no mean feat. Our company went through rigorous tests and due diligence to come out tops. I have also been a Consumer Affairs Columnist for Vanguard newspapers, published many customer service articles, authored a book titled “A Handbook of Customer Services Quotes” and worked in well-structured multinational organizations at senior management level plus my passion and love for what I do. All these propelled me to continue to play in the customer service value chain.


7. Is your consulting firm into individual or organizational training?

We conduct both individual and organizational training programs.


8. Running this business, what are some of the things you’ve learnt?

I sell knowledge and so I have to consistently upgrade my learning and develop myself to keep abreast of emerging trends in the service industry. I also understand the importance of networking and exchanging information with like-minded people in the industry. Also, I have learnt that employees are more productive when management ensures their welfare, even at the domestic level.


9. The nature of your job and your journey so far shows the great need for trained customer service skills and personnel in organizations, do you think there is a need for this training to be included in our curriculum?

Definitely.  The assessment of customer experience at every touchpoint in an organization is usually based on impression at point of contact with employees. Training is a strategic function in our company. We realise that  trained employees bring about transformational changes in organizations which in fact are measurable in comparison to the pre-training stage. Buildings and structures, no matter how well designed and decorated are mere embellishments. So, employees (human beings) through training can make the difference.


10. How do you balance running your family, having time to relax and run your business?

I believe very strongly that work and family are integral parts of life. Therefore, I plan and ensure that desired balance is achieved. Otherwise, either work or family-related concerns may suffer.


11. What’s the key thing about customer service that everyone in an organization or individuals operating privately should know?

Customers are the soul of any business. Strategically, going above and beyond to exceed their expectation will bring about continuous patronage, customer retention, more visibility, as well as company growth and wider brand acceptance.


12.  If you’re not in this profession, what would you be doing?

Probably, in the academia, grooming students and sharing knowledge in institutions across the world.


13. What advice would you give your younger self?

Believe in your capability, work hard at it, identify a need, and ensure you provide value-based services. Be proactive to the expectations and perceptions of your customers so they can stay with you.


14. What is the grand plan for YFY consulting?

To continuously raise the bar by providing outstanding service to customers, expanding frontiers and sustaining business growth and profitability.


15. What is customer service?

From a business perspective, customer service is the procession of activities that occur before a sale, during, and after a sale or service delivery, and which provides value for the customer in a professional way. From a practical point of view, the goal of every business is not only to meet customer needs but to exceed their expectations and sustain good service. This is why, word of advice, continuous sales support and understanding customers’ business are important factors in building lasting customer service relationships. On the emotional level, customer service is the conscious act of caring for customers using the right skills such as friendliness, empathy, adaptability, consistency and clear communication.


16. Do companies in Nigeria explore customer service as part of an organisational structure, put in place for optimal performance?

Customer service is a differentiating factor between success and failure of a business.  I would advise that organizations consistently aspire to better their best, with their customers in mind. Today’s customers are savvy, perceptive and knowledgeable. They have acquired new tastes and preferences. Therefore, any management structure that pays lip service to customer service will suffer attrition and dwindling earnings. A simple benchmark study of performance metrics among competing businesses will clearly reveal this.


17. What kind of training do you give in CS lectures.

We design customer service strategies for organizations. We train employees on all aspects of customer service. Some of the topics include; Customer Care Coach (The Art and Science of Customer Care), Customer Perception and Expectation; Customer Attitude, Preference and Satisfaction, Essential Skills in Customer Service, Customer Service Excellence, Finding and Keeping Customers, Speaking Engagement at Company Retreats, Motivational Talks for Organizations and Schools and more, for managers, supervisors, professionals, individuals, secondary school students and those aspiring to join the customer service industry. Our trainings are in-house, at client’s location, at event halls or hotel facilities.


18. What role does appearance play in customer service?

Communication can be verbal or non-verbal. Verbal communication should be positive, friendly, courteous and welcoming. Non-verbal cues could be inappropriate dressing or body language, which send negative signals and are turn-offs in customer service.  It is said that “body language is more eloquent than speech.”


19. What should corporate Nigeria be implementing in 2019 to move the economy forward?

The Nigerian economy can do better through industrialization. By so doing, corporate Nigeria would create jobs for the youth and stem their movement across the Sahara desert looking for green pastures. Industrialization will bring about quality Nigeria products. Consulting firms and the media will work together to articulate messages that will sensitize citizens to patronize made-in-Nigeria products and services in order to grow and turnaround the economy. Huge opportunity exists in export trade for foreign earnings.


20. Tell us a bit about yourself- what is your philosophy of life?

What motivates you and what makes you happy, especially with your job?

I am me and comfortable in my skin. My philosophy in life is to take it one day at a time and to be positive no matter what life throws at me. People who are close to me will tell you that I am always smiling and happy. It is not just my nature but I have also learnt to inculcate and practice positivity as a lifestyle. It is not an inheritance; you must create it for yourself. On motivation, I always look forward to hosting the not-too-privileged children every year through my charity, the Storehouse Empowerment Initiative. It is such a happy feeling to see the sparkle of excitement in the eyes and faces of the children. Most importantly, it gives me inner peace. At the job level, two things make me happy. First, when clients achieve positive results from learnings through our engagements and secondly, when a young graduate employee develops into a service champion through the guidance and tutelage of YFY Consulting.

 Source – Vangaurd Newspaper. Febuary 3,  2019. pg 13