Customer Service delivery in Zambia, a worrying concern!

Conditions of doing business are changing rapidly. In the last decade the commodity market has witnessed a substantial growth and rapid change, domestically and internationally. Customer or consumer satisfaction is a critical issue in the success of any business system, hence one of the key challenges on this market, is how to satisfy and retain customers or consumers to foster business growth. The issue is strongly related to how service quality is managed which holds a significant importance to customers’ satisfaction and their perceived performance of companies.

What is apparently graving is the poor customer service culture being offered by most public and private sectors players in Zambia. Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International Lusaka, a consumer body working towards balancing the interest of both producers and consumer welfare, has observed with regret the continued increase in a number of consumer cases hinging on poor customer services. Whereas, there have been other customer or consumer concerns by most customers and consumers seeking CUTS’ support and guidance, poor customer service seems to be the most common, a situation which cannot go without policing.

It has been observed that most of these poor services are being offered by Small, and Medium owned Enterprises with a few doted cases in those businesses operating at a larger scale. It is believed that some of these big businesses are fatigued with the market share they dominate and this hangover makes them forget that customers or consumers make their business.

Therefore, what entrepreneurs should know is that, good customer service is the lifeblood of any business. A business can offer promotions and slash prices to bring in as many new customers or consumers as intended, but unless some of those customers and consumers come back, the business won’t be profitable for long. Further, companies for them to survive, must find new ways of thinking, and this entails that they should invest in marketing research, especially in the areas of customer satisfaction.

More importantly, amicably resolving genuine consumer or customer complaints is a recipe having a solid ground and enhanced relationships with the customer base. Dragging consumer complaints breed unwanted tensions and might result in loosing that one consumer or customer and possibly his or her network hence affecting the business growth strategy which could have been in place. Businesses must not forget that their existence is dependent on consumers or customers’ purchasing power.

As for the consumers or customers, valuable advice for them here is not to accept substandard services sitting down. They are also encouraged to avoid putting up unwarranted claims. It has been observed that some section of consumer or customers tend dupe business with false claims in order to suffocate business. This is a mockery to private sector development.

It should be recognized as being of the utmost importance that everyone involved; Consumers or customers, private sector players as well as public service providers take time and understand the exiting Policy and Regulatory framework governing Competition and Consumer Protection and avoid being victims of breaking the law.

The author, Simon Ng’ona is the Centre Coordinator for Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International Lusaka and a regular Consumer Diaries contributor

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