The Sunday Mail
The advent of globalisation has seen competition for markets getting to unprecedented levels with companies investing so much in getting to know more about their customers.
These companies know that knowledge about the customer signifies power which can help them build a sustainable competitive advantage. Therefore, they are using different tactics to fight for customers and these fights are necessitated by the fact that all companies including non-profit organisations require revenue which is a necessary resource for any organisation to survive or fight off competition. Thus, these wars are centered on one particular objective.
The objective is getting as much revenue as possible from one source … the customer!
But who is the revenue’s main driver? According to Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, “There is only one boss, the customer and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman down to the last man by simply spending his money somewhere”.
Thus, the main driver of revenue is the CUSTOMER. Big and small organisations are engaging in cold wars in order to get the customer’s attention so that he or she can spend all they have in their respective establishments.
This is a great sign that, indeed, the customer has strong bargaining power and organisations must, therefore, have knowledge about their customer so that they are able to dance according to the customer tune and serve him better. It is also imperative for companies to use customer knowledge as ammunition for this warfare so as to excel in customer service provision.
Customer service is basically the way in which organisations take care of the needs of their customers in a bid to fulfill and satisfy these needs, differentiate their product or service from competitors, decrease marketing costs and increase customer loyalty.
Over the past few years, companies are focusing more on the customer by putting in place strategies that help them have intimate knowledge about their customers which they will use to forge long lasting relationships.
True business relationships with customers normally results in loyalty by either part because they are based on trust and mutual respect. According to Bose and RAO (2011), loyalty is the customer’s commitment to do business with a particular organisation which results in repeat purchases of goods and services of that particular organisation.
For that loyalty to occur the organisation must also play its part and in this case it should have enablers in place that allow customers to develop that loyalty which will mean repeat purchases, testimonials and referrals. Customer security is one such enabler and is of paramount importance in customer service.
The big questions now are: how well do Zimbabwean companies know about their customers and their needs to such an extent that they are able to take care of them while the same customer is able to experience delight?
Do they even invest in providing quality customer service to their customers or it is a matter of just getting them to spend their hard-earned elusive dollar in their shops and then forget about them the moment they step on the exit door?
Will these companies thrive in the modern dog-eat-dog world?
From a customer service perspective these are some of the most pertinent issues that must be addressed by an organisation that have an appetite to have an extended shelf life of existence.
Companies that have existed for decades know who their paymaster is and they are continually providing innovative solutions that keep the paymaster smiling and willing to come back and spend more. It is unfortunate that most Zimbabwean companies are found wanting when it comes to knowing and investing in their customer security thereby leaving an unfulfilled gap which might be detrimental in the long run.
The security of the customer is not only an audit department issue but should encompass all the organisational departments because a lack of customer security in one department may affect the whole organisation in terms of organisational perception by its target market.
Back home, there has been a lot of talk on “Zimbabwe is open for business”, which is an excellent campaign to market and integrate the nation into the business world, but the million dollar question is, “how well prepared are our local business people to invest in customer security before opening up business to both the local and the foreign customers?
The “Zimbabwe is open for business” will be a futile rhetoric if the business community does not know the importance of customers and customer security to the business and how they should be taken care of.
Have you had a consumer experience too good or too bad to share? Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me on [email protected]