The Sunday Mail
Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba
“If you love your customer to death, you can’t go wrong”- Graham Day
May the dear souls of the departed rest in eternal peace.
The recent bus accident in Nyamapanda is one too many, where human lives have been taken for granted by transporters.
The search for the elusive dollar has heightened competition amongst public transporters, as they do the unthinkable just to win the next passenger.
This makes me wonder if these transporters know that passengers are customers who must be treated like kings and queens.
Dangerous driving will not only result in fatalities, but it also hurts the business.
There are quite a number of public transport companies that have earned a very bad reputation when it comes to road fatalities.
Some have either been blacklisted or rebranded, or are no longer in the transport business.
Is making money more important than taking care of human lives.
Commuter omnibuses cannot be excused either.
With their daily cat-and-mouse games with both traffic and municipal police, it is a blessing to get to your destination without getting injured or worse.
Some bus crews do not really care about their customers, especially if they have already paid their fares.
They are generally impolite, rude and lack respect.
Not only do they do these bad things to their customers, they also cannot share the road in with other road users.
But what causes these drivers to take their customers for granted?
Public transporters’ management are said to give their employees daily targets.
These targets are not easily attainable if the bus or commuter omnibus crews follow proper road rules.
In cities and towns, the vehicle population has increased, which has led to traffic congestion throughout the day.
If commuter omnibus crews get stuck in these traffic jams, this may result in failure to meet daily revenue targets.
Continuous failure to meet set targets may result in one losing their job.
Employers, however, fail to understand that the environment that they are operating in is subject to regular changes.
Traffic jams, police road blocks, vehicle breakdowns and poor road infrastructure all contribute to their crews’ failure to meet daily revenue targets.
Suppose a commuter omnibus is required to do ten back-and-forth trips from a certain location to the central business district (CBD) to meet its target for the day, but along the way it gets stuck in a traffic congestion that may cause them to move at snail’s pace.
This can be very costly.
This usually compels drivers to dangerously and illegally manoeuvre through the traffic jam.
Some will create extra road lanes and drive through oncoming traffic lanes, while others go through red traffic lights.
2. Time Tables
Long-distance bus crews typically work using timetables, but at the same time they cannot leave a bus rank with just a handful of passengers.
Instead, they wait until they have a sizeable number, and this may take time.
In order for them to cover up for lost time, they end up speeding.
The employer will be waiting to see the driver at his depot at a certain time and with a certain amount of money.
This puts pressure on the crew, and they end up driving above the stipulated speed.
3. Lack of Customer Service Training
Rarely do you hear of bus companies training their staff on customer service. But, as people who have direct interaction with their customers, it is ideal to have some form of training, as this will help in protecting the company’s brand.
When passengers ask them to reduce speed, bus crews tend to ignore such pleas, as they feel they do not take instructions from them.
A customer-centric organisation should always consider the needs of the customer.
Speed thrills but it can also kill, so bus crews should always put the safety of their customers first.
Ten years ago, I boarded a bus to South Africa and what fascinated me the most was that the bus company had a certain speed limit that all its buses were supposed to adhere to.
Even if there were delays at the border post, these buses would always stick to the regulated speed.
I appreciated that they cared about “driving to arrive alive”, but also considered that speeding is not the answer even if you are delayed.
Due to unrealistic targets and absurd timetables, some of drivers seem to be overworked.
They work long hours to meet targets, and this exhausts their bodies and mind.
When fatigue catches up with them, they either sleep on the road or may ask unqualified drivers to take the steering wheel.
This also happens with commuter omnibus where the real driver will allow the conductor or “hwindi” to drive the vehicle while he is resting.
Unlicensed drivers are dangerous to both passengers and other road users.
*Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments, suggestions and training, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461, 0719 978 335