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Customer care in the era of disruption


A LOT is happening around us. Social media and the internet seem to be killing physical and social interactions between humans. The gap of human interaction is widening. As a country, we are going through economic and financial upheavals and one asks: Should we care about the customer? Should organisations really care? New players like AliExpress use the very tool that seems to throw us into disarray to make billions of dollars.


At times customers bring their grievances and their dissatisfaction about your product. As I pointed in my column last week, this is a great opportunity to connect with the customer.
At times customers bring their grievances and their dissatisfaction about your product. As I pointed in my column last week, this is a great opportunity to connect with the customer.

The business that you need in life is with a person somewhere; the very people that we should interact with. This, calls for neo-strategies, new thinking and innovative creativity to convince a person why they should give you money for the product you are selling. It could be through a tweet or actual talk; still its business!
The customer comes second

I tend to agree with the notion that says the customer comes second, put your employee first. What does this mean? The best person to take care of is the employee. As soon as great care is on the internal customer, it becomes easy to deal with the external customer.

The employee constantly interacts with your customers. What becomes extreme is that at times the employee is, in his individual capacity, a thought leader and people come to buy because he is there. The internal staff has to be trained, coached and be given the necessary tools to carry out business effectively.

First, as the leader or manager, connect the employee so that they have a large purpose of their work. Communicate clearly — people must know what is expected of them and how they “must” treat the customer. Never assume they know that. Let the employee know that we care — we need to appreciate what they do and keep the communication lines open and clean. As a manager, when was the last time, you said thank you to your team members? Just surprise them with a handwritten “Thank you” note. Support the employee with tools they need to deliver to your service standards.

Most importantly, train, coach them and never leave anything to chance. Engage experts to train them in customer relations management (CRM). Every time I’m engaged in training a company on CRM, especially where I’m not known, I make an anonymous telephone call to gauge the telephone etiquette and mannerisms. At times, I play the underdog and visit and engage with the people at the bottom of the ladder and I usually get great case studies for my actual training and that helps achieve better results.

In business, it’s either you cultivate or corrode your relations with your customer. Customer care is the core objective of any business. As I do business with companies, I look around at how employees react to me. This gives me a true picture of their customer relations. A negative tweet from an employee can go viral and even attract media attention at the company’s expense.

As highlighted in my previous article, people’s personalities are crucial and it is now possible for every employee to do a personality test. Where the need is, training and coaching must be done by an expert.

Have you ever walked into the reception of a company and you feel very welcome? On the other hand, you go to another and it’s not only the service that is poor and slow, but the people are unfriendly and very acidic.

Some Zimbabwe government offices should have serious customer relations training. It’s pathetic how I have been treated at times. In addition, the service and the environment are not professionally presented. You go to the passport office today and you won’t want to stay there for an hour, but because you need the passport, you are forced to stay.

I once worked with a lady, who was always grumpy and unkind to clients. She was on the front desk and I can’t imagine what impact that had to the whole institution. She had the first contact with everyone that came to the company, but she was definitely an “ugly” face for the company.

When hiring, we should be able to engage employees with good people skills and who are able to handle different personalities. Let’s explore few things that any organisation should take into account:

Care for customers

There is a great effect for your clients to keep you in mind. How do you do this? Appreciate clients that you have done business with. Make follow-ups through phone calls, letters, and e-mails. Thank you cards seem to have lost flavour, but I think they are better than e-mail because e-mails can be so many that we don’t read some of them.

Think of it: How would it feel to receive a physical “Thank you” card? This will ensure your clients keep you in mind and even refer their friends, families and core workers to you. Remember, for 10 people you do great business with, you have 10 more new potential customers. They could be referred to you only by the word of mouth.


David Brownlee, a coach and customer services trainer, has created and acronym called SEC. This stands for smile, eye contact and comment.

A smile is like perfume, I always teach this in seminars. It permeates into the air with no effort and everyone around smells its aroma. A smile is contagious and has a positive impact on people you are dealing with.

Eye contact cannot be underestimated. It’s so frustrating as a customer to talk to someone who seems unconcerned and disinterested. It’s like they are saying: “Buy whatever you want and get out of my face!” As an employee, be concerned and be helpful. This is possible through eye contact. Eye contact shows that you are engaging with them.
Comments make communication with a customer two-way and very engaging.

Quality counts

A product could be cheap in its pricing and if it’s not quality, your clients won’t forget the company they bought it from. A good brand is extremely important. At first, you will have to make rigorous and religious efforts in making a good brand reputation. Good products will increase customer loyalty and create great referrals.

Make it a WOW experience!

At times, you have to offer more than the product you have; offer an experience What do I mean: how do you feel when you walk into a Nigerian shop? What about a Chinese shop? What of Edgars?

There are different experiences. You know the difference and it’s all about experience. Some shops, you walk in and you are followed around. So what do they take me for? A thief? In some shops, you are treated as a VIP? What do they take me for? A king! Companies must learn to create an experience.

Create a positively memorable experience. Make the process and experience of getting the product great and smooth. Improve your delivery. Remove all unnecessary hurdles that frustrate customers. Create that WOW experience for your customers.

Move from a task-mentality to an experience mentality. These days we have a cash crisis, and what do most banks do? They neglect the very person that brings the money to them. Not only that, they manhandle customers. They are creating an experience for the customers.

The customer needs your ear!

At times, customers bring their grievances and their dissatisfaction about your product. As I pointed out in my column last week, this is a great opportunity to connect with the customer. I remember some years back I bought a pint of milk from a famous supermarket.

Unfortunately, the milk had gone bad. I returned the opened pint and their argument was that since I had opened it, they would not refund me. As a straight thinking person, I didn’t try to argue, but I questioned the rationale of that. How would I have known that the milk was bad if I had not opened it?

I lost a few dollars. That seems never to get out of my mind, but I never think much of anything that I bought which was in good order.

Poor customer service has a double impact than your efforts of good service. Think more about it, more anything else and you create a great experience for people to come again.

Parting shot: People, don’t only buy a product, they buy an experience. President Theodore Roosevelt had a famous quote, which says: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

Jonah Nyoni is an author, success coach and certified leadership/business trainer. He is the author of Inspiration for Success and Success Within Reach. Contact details-Tel: 0772 581 918. Email: jonah@classicmail.co.za. Twitter@jonahnyoni.

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