HomeAnalysisLook after your employees and they will look after your customers

Look after your employees and they will look after your customers

Memory Nguwi

LOOK after your employees and they will look after your customers. Looking after your employees does not mean splashing a lot of money. Employees will only look after your customers when they find meaning in their work. The value creation systems in organisations is so simple but many leaders do not seem to understand the connection between employees, customers and shareholders. Many organisations are a “living hell” for most employees because of the way they are treated and valued.

When real competition comes to Zimbabwe, the majority of local organisations will go under despite initial success which is mainly a result of some of these organisations operating in a closed environment where the number of participants is regulated. For those companies raking in huge profits ask yourselves: are you achieving these profits because you are being more productive or you are increasing prices because consumers have very few choices.

Customer service dilemma

I would consider this to be one of the biggest challenges facing local organisations. Despite Zimbabwean employees having been praised in other countries for their hard work and good work ethic, we fall short of meeting standards when it comes to customer services. Whenever I train people in small groups or address huge numbers at industry level conferences I have conducted an informal poll to find out how many people have experienced good customer service in the past 6 months.

So far less than 5% of the Zimbabwean customers have received good customer service from any service provider.

I want to give you a few examples to show how terrible the level of customer service has gone down and no one seems to care. At one stage I wanted to buy a generator and saw an advert in the paper by a company selling fairly priced generators.

I called this company on my way to the airport and told the guy to call me in five minutes so that I could get directions to their premises. In a hurry the gentlemen told me to call him since I was the one who wanted the generator and he cut off the phone. I had no option but to ignore this company based on the response of this gentleman. Imagine the level of service you would get from such a company should the generator develop a problem.

In another case, I went to a hotel in Victoria Falls where I was supposed to address an industry-level conference. When I arrived, most delegates and other guests had already eaten their breakfast but I went and asked one of the waiters if it was still possible for me to have my breakfast. He told me yes and allocated me a table to sit. It was self-service as usual and I went to get my food. I then asked one of the waitresses if I could get a soft drink instead of juice she said “you will have to pay for the drink”.

I agreed to pay for the soft drink and gave her the money she requested which was one US dollar for the soft drink.

She disappeared and only saw her after about 30 minutes by then I had already finished eating my breakfast. When I saw her I asked her what had happened to the soft drink she told me she had given someone to go and buy the drink. She left the table and assured me she was going to check.

She went to a group of four other waitresses who were chatting a few metres from my table. I could overhear her saying “ John aenda kupi ngape baba avo drink yavo vandipinza busy”. She disappeared again and this time brought a drink after another 20 minutes. I thanked her for the effort and told her she could have the drink.

In another case in Masvingo, I was given two uncooked eggs as part of my packed breakfast which I was supposed to eat early in the morning on my way to Harare.
I only discovered this when I was 130km from Masvingo. I made an effort to notify the manager and he apologised. After the egg incident, I realised that some of the anomalies I had noticed in the rooms were indicative of the general “I don’t care” attitude that seems to be the norm in many of our organisations today.

In another case at what is supposed to be a “top restaurant” in Harare, I was treated in a way that I had never seen in post-independence Zimbabwe. When I arrived at this restaurant I had not booked and I politely asked if they had space for a table of two. The gentleman I had asked ignored me and I assumed he was rushing to do something urgent in one of the many rooms at this restaurant. After about 15 minutes he reappeared and by then I had sat at one of the many tables in this restaurant waiting to check if they had space.

When he came back he was fuming with anger and asked me “Who told you to sit there?” I politely said I got tired of standing while waiting for an answer and decided to sit. He was furious and only stopped when I said to him if he continued to insult me I was going to beat him up. At that stage the manager appeared and told me point blank that the waiter could not be wrong as they had worked together for five years with no incident at all. I did not want to enter into another argument, so I left.

Nguwi is an occupational psychologist, data scientist, speaker & managing consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a management and HR consulting firm. — mnguwi@ipcconsultants.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/memorynguwi; Phone: +263 4 481 946-48/290 0276/or mobile: +263 772 356 361 or visit: www.ipcconsultants.com.


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