Customer service in an independent Zimbabwe: challenges and opportunities

18 Apr, 2024 - 08:04 0 Views
Customer service in an independent Zimbabwe: challenges and opportunities

The Sunday Mail

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things as well” – Jeff Bezos

 AS Zimbabwe commemorates its 44th independence anniversary, it is important to reflect on the state of customer service in the country.

In a country with a rich history and diverse culture, the quality of customer service plays a pivotal role in shaping citizens’ experiences and fostering economic growth.

Let us delve into the nuances of customer service in independent Zimbabwe, exploring both the challenges and opportunities.

The paradox of bad customer service

Zimbabweans have become accustomed to subpar customer service across various industries.

Conversations often revolve around these issues, yet there seems to be a curious acceptance of poor customer service.

It is time to break this cycle and demand better. As Zimbabwe celebrates 44 years of independence, let us advocate for a customer-centric approach across the board.


  1. i)The banking sector: A microcosm of challenges

Zimbabwean banks employ sizable staff numbers, but this does not always translate to efficient service.

Despite the workforce, overall customer service remains dismal. Citizens wonder why queues persist, especially considering banks close early, sometimes before 3pm. Staffing alone is not the solution; it is about how efficiently they serve customers.

Here is a classic example: Just this Tuesday, I received a call from one of the readers of my column expressing dissatisfaction with his experience with a popular bank. He wanted to open an account with that bank and he had about ZWL$100 000 in cash that he wanted to use as the initial deposit. Unfortunately, he could not open that account because the bank wanted proof of the source of that money. On the official market that money was equivalent to about US$5. It did not make sense to him that a whole bank would want to know the origins of a mere US$5 for them to approve the opening of a new account.

While the banking sector exemplifies these challenges, other industries face similar issues. From retail to telecommunications, Zimbabweans deserve efficient, respectful service.

  1. ii)Mobile telecommunications providers: Disconnected from satisfaction

Mobile network providers, despite their ubiquity, struggle to provide satisfactory service. Frequent call drops, slow data speeds, and unresponsive customer care lines frustrate users. The promise of seamless connectivity remains elusive.

iii)  Transporters: Bumpy roads to satisfaction

Commuter omnibuses, those vibrant yet chaotic minivans that crisscross Zimbabwe’s roads, are the epitome of poor customer service. Passengers endure overcrowded vehicles, erratic schedules, and impolite conduct from crew members. Commuter omnibuses in the central business district, in particular, offer poor service delivery.

  1. iv)Urban tuck shops: A customer service dilemma

Urban tuck shops, the corner stores that cater to customers’ daily needs, often disappoint customers. Long queues, stock shortages, and indifferent attitudes create an unpleasant shopping experience. Patrons often grumble about the lack of basic courtesy and efficient service.


Training and empathy

Investing in staff training, especially in customer service and customer experience, is paramount. Employees should understand the value of empathy, active listening, and problem-solving. A courteous smile or a patient explanation can transform a customer’s experience.

Technology and innovation

Embrace digital solutions. Mobile banking, chatbots, and self-service kiosks can streamline processes and reduce wait times. Innovations like these empower customers and enhance satisfaction.

Financial jargon

Banks must simplify financial jargon, ensuring that everyone – regardless of education or background – understands their products and services. Communicating in native languages such as Shona and Ndebele is crucial. A bank’s ability to bridge language gaps enhances customer satisfaction.

Query resolution and agility

In business, queries are inevitable, whether in person or virtually. Failed transactions, account discrepancies, and general inquiries require prompt attention. Organisations must invest in robust systems, capable of handling numerous queries daily. Agility and responsiveness matter.

Regulatory oversight

Government bodies and industry regulators must enforce customer service standards. Transparent reporting mechanisms and penalties for non-compliance can drive positive change.

Diplomacy and human rights

Customer service is not just about transactions. It is a reflection of a nation’s values. Treating customers with dignity aligns with Zimbabwe’s commitment to human rights. Diplomatic responses to service failure matters, both domestically and internationally.

As Zimbabwe celebrates its independence, let us envision a future where exceptional customer service becomes the norm. Citizens deserve respect, efficiency, and solutions. By addressing challenges head-on and embracing opportunities, we can build a Zimbabwe where every interaction reflects pride, professionalism and progress.

Remember, the journey to exceptional customer service begins with every one of us.

*Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing consultant with a strong passion for customer experience. For comments, suggestions, and trainings, she can be reached at [email protected] or at +263 712 979 461, 0719 978 335, 0772 978 335


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