Customer awareness, perception
Published On February 12, 2014 » 2491 Views» By Davies M.M Chanda » Features
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The EnterpreneurWHEN you have a business, of any size or any type, you need to follow the four major rules, those we call the four P’s of good business.
Those four P’s are Product, Price, Promotion, and Perception.
We will deal with each in turn but today I wanted to share with you the last one, that of Perception.
Business is rewarded by returning customers, by giving customer satisfaction and by having a customer recommend you and your product or service to others.
Without this, you will fail, or certainly not grow. Argue against me, sure, but in the end, only businesses that are perceived to give value for money and give good customer satisfaction are going to succeed, and give a sustained service.
The business that looks like it was still in the 40’s being dirty, no customer seating, bad tempered staff, not welcoming to customers, badly trained sales staff, will not grow, will not be there in years to come.
And this description fits the majority of businesses in Zambia.
Only to often do you go to a business in the industrial area, you have to fight your way into the reception area over boxes and broken desks.
There is no receptionist guiding you, the sales staff are too interested in texting their friends to give you any attention.
It is the norm that the businesses treat you, the customer, as a necessary evil.
Someone that is disturbing their peace or possible their Facebook time, someone that they are not remotely interested in and do not care as to weather you buy or not.
There is a total lack of work pride and loyalty and this is possibly the largest cause of business failure within Zambia.
I went into a large agricultural sales outlet in the show grounds yesterday, they have spent good amount of money revamping their reception and now you have to queue up in very pleasant surroundings to be served.
However, it is infuriating to be in a large 20 plus queue and have to watch four empty sales desks, to have to watch the sales staff that are there chatting on their mobile phones.
Yesterday while I was waiting to be served, three people walked out of the store mumbling their annoyance before they were served, and that was in just 30 minutes.
The company spent lots of money but forgot the customer.
Perception is simply the feeling, good or bad that the customer has about the company.
Large motor dealerships carry a perception that the service is very good but they are very expensive, Street mechanics or second hand tyre people have the opposite perception, cheap but no quality at all.
The agricultural company, when my wife asks me to go there again to buy something for our farm, my perception is, no, I do not have the time, you have to endure a 30 minute wait and listen to other ranting customers.
I will find possible more expensive outlets but ones that are stress free.
Banks, all are under staffed, go to any bank at any time and you will find 20 people in a queue in front of you, yet they make so much money, why can they not spend it on the customer.
In some cases, we have to put up with it, we have no alternative, but to all you entrepreneurs out there, the lack of customer service within Zambia is a great opportunity.
Start any business, just copy a business that exists now but look at the way they treat the customer, then have one fixed idea and target, this is to improve greatly the customer experience, and for sure, you will very quickly kill of the opposition and have a very viable business.
Believe me please, if your business has a bad public perception, if the customer only uses you because you are the only option, then you are sailing very close to the wind.
At any time someone can come in and copy your product and give that must needed customer satisfaction and you are dead, business wise.
The customer is always right, that was an old saying but is still correct today, I prefer to say that the Customer is King, without the customer you have no business, if you loose the customer you have a shrinking business, You can have the best product, the best price but if you treat your customer badly, then all is lost.
How do the change? you first need to look at your business as though you were a customer, perform secret shopping, send some external person that has no connection to your business, in to buy something or to get a quote.
On the televesion we have undercover boss programmes, this is what you need, you need to see what happens at the coal face, understand the attitude of your staff, see the sales or reception situation as a customer.
One of the seven attributes of a successful company is MBWA.
This means Management By Walking About. Unfortunately not adhered to very often. Be part of your business, understand it, live with it but do so as a customer.
To the entrepreneur, look for businesses that does not give a good customer service, these are easy to take over and make successful.
Alternatively they are badly managed, their management does not concern them selves about the customer so again, go out and steal their business idea.
You are in the best position, they have spent the money coming up with an idea, finding the supply and the market, but just give bad service, Easy, just improve the service and you have a winner.
To the companies, look at your business, profits are down, cash flow is tight, turnover dropping, your answer, go to the bank and borrow more money !!!!
So wrong in many aspects, look at your business, look at the buying experience, look at your customers, would you buy from your company, would you recommend your company as a pleasant buying experience?
I doubt it, if you are true to yourself, you will understand quickly why turnover is down.
You, yourself need to change, manage by walking about, by knowing your customers, by understanding their needs and annoyances.
You need to simply change, to re direct your company to being a customer driven company and not a profit driven one.
Zambia is renown for the quick money deals, we all look for the instant business deal that brings in the money, but this is not the way, I have said many times that you will never get rich unless you are prepared to work hard. But I will add that you need to work in a cleaver way, you need to get your priorities right, and your customer is that first priority.
In conclusion, your most valuable asset in the company is not your fancy car or the shop fittings, or the new furniture or your many bank branches, your most valuable asset is your customer, look after them and they will look after you.

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