Customer service is a crucial element for the sustainable existence of any business. Unfortunately, locally it seems that domain is seriously under-performing. It is not just small businesses but also big businesses that are being found wanting due to poor customer service. A quick sweep on social media will shed light on this aspect. A quick example that comes to mind is Econet and you need only visit their official Facebook page to see for yourself. In fact, there is a general consensus that most businesses in Zimbabwe do not take customer service seriously. So in this article let us talk about some customer service dynamics in the country at the moment.

Promoting A Tweet To Complain About Poor Customer Service

Stop for a moment and think about that – a customer promoting (i.e. paying) for a tweet to reach more people. Not because they are promoting some business or income-generating initiative. Rather it was to spread a tweet expressing their disappointment because of poor service that they got from a business service provider. This is a true story and recently happened in Harare. So there is this guy called Leon Mott and here is his tweet:

Some people responded to the tweet by concurring that Nandos is sleeping on the job. This is monumental because Sam Levy’s is a high-end marketplace where you would normally expect to find top-notch service. A scenario where a big brand like Nandos fails to have fries and even just basic drinking water is quite telling. This somehow sets the stage for us to talk about some reasons as to why customer service has sunk so low in Zimbabwe.

Economic Turmoil

This is first and foremost because the current state of the economy is quite dire. Production and operating costs are now sky high due to foreign currency, power and fuel shortages, just to mention a few. This puts most businesses in dire straits because they end up failing to provide even the most basic things. This unfortunately comes off as poor customer service. You must, however realize that this is not an excuse for providing poor customer service. The crux of entrepreneurship is being able to find your way despite the turbulence. Be honest with yourself and your customers at the very least. Downsize your operations, switch up your products and services or find a way to make things work.

Waning Staff Morale

There are a lot of factors that can lead to this and the state of the economy is one of them. Again this must not be an excuse to not pay your employees well. However, the reality of it is that when employees are not getting satisfactory packages their morale is seriously compromised. It is not easy for an employee to be devoted and passionate about their job if they are not happy. In fact, if you assess most accounts of poor customer service they usually stem from a disgruntled employee letting out their frustrations on customers. The other factor that leads to waning staff morale is basic treatment from superiors. Recently I had a chat with a friend who was saying she does not enjoy work because her boss is extremely rude and unappreciative. The irony is that most bosses do this for no plausible reason but to just be felt. This culminates in poor customer service so businesses must invest more into keeping their staff well catered for. It does not always take money to keep them in high spirits; at times it just takes a superior treating an employee with dignity and respect.

Poor Staff Development

Handling and interacting with customers is both an art and a science. Employees must be taken through the right training to master customer service dynamics. Unfortunately most are not trained and it is just assumed that they will know how to properly deal with customers. You will be amazed at how many business staff members regard customers as being servants and at their mercy. It is not surprising to find a business lashing out or being rude at a customer for calling them out on poor customer service. As much as it can be due to other factors as mentioned before sometimes it is ignorance borne out of lack of proper training.

One thing businesses must take to heart is that the operating environment is now very competitive. The businesses that will stay afloat and edge past their competitors are those providing unparalleled value to customers and treating them well. Do not take the aspect of customer service lightly because your business depends on it. Especially nowadays with the internet and social media bad publicity spreads so fast that the damage can be costly. Conversely, positive publicity also follows the same pattern so make pristine customer service your priority.