If you have ever walked into a government office, fast food joint, bought in a supermarket or clothing store, or banked with a teller, then you know customer service in Zimbabwe is generally quite poor. Good customer service is a rare gem in Zimbabwe and only restricted to a minority of service providers. In some places, mostly fast food restaurants targeting the masses, customer service is downright terrible. There are several reasons why customer service is so awful in Zimbabwe, but here are five of the more prominent ones.
Nepotism can be defined as appointment for employment based on familial relations to the employer. Often appointments through nepotism disregard the necessary qualifications or job requirements. Nepotism is different from being employed based on referrals. The two are often confused but they’re not the same. With the formal employment rate incredibly low in Zimbabwe, nepotism has risen dramatically. Working in customer service roles requires certain qualities in an individual that will make them likely to excel. Friendliness, politeness and a mild temperament are necessary qualities for customer service, and yet so often you come across servers displaying none of these.
Hiring people without the necessary qualities seems to be the trend in many Zimbabwean organisations. Perhaps what enables this trend is that these qualities are soft skills and are not accompanied by certification, therefore it’s easy to justify appointing a candidate who doesn’t have them. This is perhaps one of the biggest reasons why customer service is poor in Zimbabwe.
Treating existing and potential customers/clients well is the hallmark of a trusted and respected brand. Employees who interact directly with customers/clients are the everyday faces of a business. Their treatment of consumers affects how the brand is perceived. It’s therefore necessary to train these employees on customer service. Whilst the qualities we mentioned before are essential, training is still required.
Judging from the quality of customer service in Zimbabwe, organisations either do not invest in training, or the training programs used are ineffective. Whilst some people have inherent personality traits that make them friendlier, or more welcoming, everyone can be taught to smile, be courteous and serve customers well. Managing tempers and complaints are skills that can taught albeit with varying degrees of success. A significant number of organisations in Zimbabwe don’t seem to be bothered with training employees on customer service.
Poor work ethic
In order to excel and produce stellar results in the workplace one needs a strong work ethic, something that seems to be lacking from employees working in customer service in many places. The desire to do your job well and do it consistently well is lacking in many employees across organisations. The everyday faces of organisations don’t seem particularly concerned about doing their jobs well, or perhaps just doing them at all.
Management can also be blamed for poor customer service. Apathetic managers or supervisors are those who will do the minimum and are partially indifferent to their work. Keeping an eye on employees and how they are treating customers is an important yet often neglected part of their duties. Without accountability to their managers, poorly motivated employees might start to slack and not serve customers or clients in a friendly and welcoming manner.
People don’t like their jobs
When you don’t enjoy what you do, dislike the environment or wish you were in a different place, it can be easily evident to the people you interact with. Your feelings of discontent, contempt or resentment will start to leak out through your behaviour, especially on a bad day. It’s quite obvious in some places that people don’t like their jobs just by the way they treat customers/clients, and you have to wonder why they took the job in the first place if they are not going to do it well.
Customers don’t complain
Lastly Zimbabweans don’t complain about customer service to the right people. We mumble and complain among ourselves but rarely call up the culprits or take it up with management. The direct manager might not be particularly concerned but someone higher up is bound to care. Alerting middle or top management of issues that bother you could move them into taking action. Letting business owners know (as consumers) what we think of their customer service could help bring change. As business owners, paying attention to the customer service we give could greatly impact our businesses positively.