By Mihigo Davidson
Looking at the customer service trends in Uganda, one can comfortably conclude that it will take long before businesses improve on their service. Going for lunch and a meal takes 30minutes or more, making an inquiry and a service rep sarcastically answering you, the fuel pump attendant ruthlessly calling you (customer) to order, a cashier somewhere looking at you like you are crazy, all these actions are common to any person who has been and is still in Uganda.
Most right thinking Ugandans attribute this wide trend to poor staff motivation and little pay to be more specific.
To these, how do you explain going to an orange shop and someone says they don’t have change hence they can’t serve you, considering that someone working in such a shop doesn’t earn below $300. Do they want the customer to go out and look for change? What happened to aggressive selling and helping a customer? Is it possible that employees don’t see the link between excellent customer satisfaction and their quality of livelihood?
In my view this answers the question of customer care in Uganda.
Later this year, I’ll be marking 5 years working in the professional service sector. Having worked in different capacities from a service rep in my early days to sales manager, creative director, marketing manager and recently GM, I can authoritatively say that the main person to blame in ALL cases of poor service is the Business Owner.
You see, when you start a business, you have a vision. One of the vision intelligent entrepreneurs have is for the business to run with or without the business owner being around, that means even if the Founder dies, the business should run as smoothly as possible at the same or faster growth rate.
In the beginning, the business is good, customer service, excellent, this attracts customers and hence more money trickling in. Before you know it, the owner can afford employing a manager to run the business as she/he takes care of other priorities which could be personal or business related.
But the major failure in this transition is failing to pass on the exact vision of the company to this manager and the whole team. Ugandans hate passing on their vision!! Before you know it, the manager is implementing his/her own version of the vision, this is coupled with the fact that Ugandans fear employing professional managers in which case they could have a better or finer vision.
Things like team building, staff motivation, training staff, monitoring and evaluation and various internal activities geared to improving service are done by a few businesses in Uganda yet still not to the mark.
This in the long run increases customer retention and consequently increases sales and profit margins for the owner who should re-invest in the business to better services (one of them increasing salaries) and thereby increasing referrals/customers, before you know it, the business is booming with excellent service. Then the business expands and so on and so forth.
The other problem is that Owners will want to buy a posh car as soon as the account figures are on the rise, when employees see you with a new posh car when their salaries haven’t increased, they feel cheated. You owe them an explanation; after all they are running your business.
In conclusion, if employers can show employees the service life circle, showing them how excellent service affects their ‘take-home’, then probably customer service would greatly improve.
The writer is a customer service consultant.
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