We have all had numerous bad experiences as customers in Botswana. I didn’t want to believe it was bad luck, so I went on what one might call a mystery shopping exercise to get a deliberate feel of the reality that is bad customer service, which we all have to endure every day.
I visited the big cooperate firms as well as the smallest food outlets, including street vendors.
I have no intention of pin-pointing or bad-mouthing anyone. The intention is to bring it to people’s attention that bad customer service is not a good thing and is more widespread than we think.
My take is that an agent has a chance to make a lasting impression on a potential customer when they first meet. The agent represents not only herself but the organisation for which s/he works. The fact is that there are no second chances, and first impressions always last longer.
Again, remember that news, especially bad news, travel fast. So an angry client will probably talk about your shoddy customer service every chance they get.
There are only a handful of places in Botswana where one can repeatedly get served at world class standards. I have observed that the best service deliverers are mostly franchises. This is a bit of a shame because it would really be great if local organisations could also live up to expectations.
It is a good thing that more and more Batswana are starting their own businesses, but it is also important that they get down to business and provide their clients with proper customer service.
Has no one ever told Batswana that it is rude to chew gum at work, especially at the front desk?
Every time I walk into a bank, I grit my teeth at the unsavoury prospect of being served by a very pretty woman who, unfortunately, has chronic chewing gum addiction. It does not matter how much rapport one develops with a customer or how beautiful their smile is, chewing gum behind a service desk or while serving a customer is simply improper.
Immigration staff: you are the first port of entry into Botswana. Foreigners who visit this country are also potential investors who are looking to create employment in Botswana. It, therefore, makes me cringe when you serve these would be investors with little courtesy. It is embarrassing for me to have to defend the indefensible when a foreign friend or visitor rightfully complains about your shoddy customer service. You see, such people travel the world, and they have experienced first class customer service.
Our buildings are always well kept and we seem never to get the uniform wrong. It is also common knowledge across the world that Batswana are some of the best looking people in the world. I just don’t understand why our looks do not match our professionalism and service delivery.
At the end of the day we are in the jobs that we are in because of the customers we serve.
In other words, our pay checks are from our customers. Ideally we are to leave home everyday knowing that we are going into the working world for one reason only and that is to make our customers happy. Of all the places in the world, Botswana is a country where a visitor would naturally expect the best customer service.
Firstly, we are internationally acclaimed for being peace loving people. Secondly, we are a cultural society whose democratic and consultation ideals are obtained from our traditional society. So why is it so difficult to extend the same courtesy of botho to our clients?
Customer service is as much a commodity as the tourism industry that we peddle overseas.
It all begins with good service delivery.