'An interesting development has occurred in South Africa in that customers now want
brand equity as well as affordability.'
- John Jessup, marketing director, Nissan SA Marketing
'Central to the success of any organisation are that the staff who make it up interact with its customers, execute plans
and give the company life.'
- Klaas Jonkheid, marketing planning director. - Lindsay Smithers FCB
'Contracts are won on price, but they are retained on quality.'
- Gary Hawkes, managing director, Gardner Merchants
'When in doubt, go with the customer.'
- Peter Gentle, store controller, Edgars
Understanding your customers is not important. It's vital!
- Les Smith, Commercial Director,The Southern Sun Group
WHEN foreign traders attempt to blast their way into the
domestic market by slashing prices and providing world-class
customer service, what do South African companies do?
Among the most talkative are car manufacturers. After
treating customers as necessary evils for decades, they're
running scared. South Africa's re-entry into world orbit and
the withdrawal of protective barriers have brought the threat
of international competition to their doorstep.
So how do they propose righting the wrongs that they've
foisted on the long-suffering South African public for so
Let's start with ...
The company produces cars in seven different body
Mike Ewing thinks that's six too many.
By specialising in one body shape, the car would cost less
to manufacture or assemble. Another plus: Samcor would become
market leader in that category of vehicle and be in a far
better position to fight off competition.
Now, let's move from the general to the specific and home in on the Mazda
Samcor management has been gearing for international
competition for the last three to four years. Because it won't
be viable to compete with Hyundai, the major threat, on basis
of price, it has decided to defend its position by
concentrating on distribution channels, costs, productivity
and the introduction of new products.
The basis of the strategy is a new mission developed in
1992. It reads: "By 1997 we will be world competitive in
everything we do".
'Lifetime customer concept'
By placing the main emphasis on dealer networks, cost
reductions, new technology and 'complete customer
satisfaction', Samcor will strive for 'the lifetime customer concept', which
calls for added value and 'complete customer peace of mind'.
Samcor hopes to achieve these lofty ideals by:
The company believes that radically improving after-sales
service is the only viable short-term option in combating
foreign low-price strategies.
Samcor is known for providing less than superb customer service. So, to
rectify problems, the company is closely examining performance in towns and
cities where there are two or more dealers. Those that don't meet new
service performance criteria will be given a limited time to do so. Or else.
Brand equity is the answer, asserts ...
Nissan doesn't want to cut prices because it links pricing
strategies to the concept of brand equity. As a result,
Nissan differentiates itself through brand building.
It also creates brand equity through public relations,
media relations and, most importantly, through advertising. In
theory, the more added value a customer associates with a
vehicle, the higher the premium he is prepared to pay for that
In practice, customers now want brand equity and
'Affordability,' says John Jessup 'has become critical to
the success of a brand.
Neither Nissan nor Toyota ever use big discount plans in
their promotional campaigns. Instead, they insist on good
financing plans and, in this way, try to create added value
for the consumer.
Consequently, Nissan management has decided to adopt
marketing strategies that embrace the customer. This led to
the implementation of relationship marketing - a concept that
has as its premise the uniqueness of each customer, even in a
mass marketing strategy.
'People want to relate to a brand,' says Jessup,
'particularly for such products as motor vehicles.'
At Nissan, efforts to implement the philosophy include a Uno club magazine and a Nissan credit card for the purchase of
petrol and groceries.
Every time Nissan customers use their card to make
purchases, they'll be credited with bonus points they can
redeem for cash when they next buy a Nissan.
'Superior customer satisfaction,' says Jessup, 'is the
only way Nissan believes it can gain the number one position.'
Nissan already has a large, established customer base,
which gives the company an estimated 18 to 19% share of the
market. The main focus is on fleet or corporate customers who
account for 80 to 85% of Nissan's total business.
So what does Nissan plan to do to protect this base from
Speaking for Uno, David Pfaff, says that although
competitors may gain market share by cutting prices, it will
not be 'a sustainable competitive advantage'.
Because of its inherent nature, a car suffers from
considerable wear and tear with usage. Car maintenance is,
therefore, a key aspect of car ownership.
'Price cutting will only have detrimental effects,
especially in a climate where employees demand exorbitant
Intangible, value-added aspects
Instead, Uno will sell the intangible, value-added
aspects of cars - image, user-friendliness and after-sales
Promotions will sharply focus on 'unique services offered
to all Uno owners'. These include:
free 24-hour AA roadside assistance;
fix it right first time/ fix-it-for-free service
full maintenance plans;
free roadside medical emergency assistance, and
And enhanced after-sales service from ...
In Delta's case, the company's Motorpart enhanced after-
sales service includes the guaranteed delivery of any part
within 24 hours nationwide. The company also offers its
customers Delta Plus. Its major components embrace:
comprehensive motor insurance 'at very attractive
rates'. Benefits include a 10% discount for women,
R250 hotel expenses in the event of accident-
related hold-ups, R750 towing expenses and R10 000
disability and death cover;
a three-year extended warranty that comes into effect
when the original factory warranty expires;
a maintenance plan that covers all routine servicing
and repairs for a fixed monthly fee, and
a 24-hour free roadside assistance plan.
At the same time, Delta continues to develop its customer
satisfaction index (CSI) programme. Every year it rates
dealers in terms of customer satisfaction with product, sales
The significance of the programme is to shift emphasis
from the number of sales to the satisfaction of the customer.
The CSI index has now become the most important rating
whereas, in the past, dealers were evaluated solely on market
The programme supposedly ensures that customers are well
looked after to enhance customer loyalty, which increases the
number of repeat sales while reducing the number of one-time
Not only the motor industry faces threats. They also pose
problems for sectors of the building and construction
So here's an answer to price-cutting by ...
Differentiate markets, services and other facilities
according to customer requirements.
That's the only way Blue Circle believes it can counteract
The company now realises that it can serve both large
contractors and small developers. But to meet the needs of
small developers it must become more customer-friendly.
To this end, Blue Circle has already become more
customer-orientated at quarry sites, where waiting times for
small developers have been slashed by 50%. The company
achieved this by waiving the need for small customers to go
through the same time-consuming material weighing time as
Blue Circle will also go out of its way to meet customer
requirements in other areas. For example, it plans to make a
large investment to increase the capacity of its shrink-wrap
facilities to meet the growing demand for shrink-wrapped
'It is this type of commitment to serving customers in an
industry where customer service is perceived to be less
critical than in other industries that will enable Blue Circle
to neutralise the threat of price-cutting,' avers Derrick Theck.
Even financial institutions aren't exempt. Many of them
find themselves in the direct line of foreign competitive
fire. Brighter smiles, firmer handshakes and vague promises
won't be enough to deflect foreign competition.
So make products price-competitive says ...
To keep and enlarge its existing customer base in the face
of foreign competition ABSA will have to provide superior
products and service, says J J Runewitsch.
The bank will have to make clients feel that its products
are price-competitive. And more, the products must meet their
But therein lies a danger.
The bank will have to be careful not to compete to the
extent that it loses money, warns Runewitsch.
To find out what clients want, the bank has been
interviewing the clients. This led to the introduction of an
innovative, computer-based system that assists clients in
opening important letters of credit.
External and strategic focus is the answer according to ...
This basically entails employing a more customer-
orientated approach and focusing on cost-reduction
Standard recognises the pressing need for greater emphasis
on customer service because it will have to defend its market
territory from both local and foreign banks, which have
developed cultures of good customer service.
The bank expects foreign competitors to ignore retail
banking in favour of asset and liability gains - corporate
business and relationship building as well as integrated
stockbroking, underwriting, trading, corporate and fund
Although Standard reckons that it has sufficiently robust
pricing structures to meet the challenge, it acknowledges the
need to leverage other marketing mix variables such as service
and distribution to defend its position in these markets.
Rob Miller, the bank's national manager of foreign trade
services, doesn't agree.
He says that domestic banks have little or no defence
against the threat posed by price-cutting in corporate areas
because South African banks rely on overseas banks to provide
many financing instruments.
But Miller does see a glimmer of hope.
Local banks may be in a position to discourage forages by
re-routing other traditional foreign exchange products, such
as documentary credits, to foreign banks that are not
represented in South Africa. Usually this type of product is a
very lucrative source of income for overseas banks.
He also suggests that Standard Bank may be able to entice
the corporate and upper commercial markets by providing an
all-embracing package of the products at a reduced price.
Go for the 'middle market' advises ...
Foreign raiders will gun for the least profitable sector
of the market - the price and rate-driven corporate market,
asserts Nedbank's Jack de Blanche.
Nedbank appears to be willing to lose market share in this
sector and concentrate on maintaining and developing its
position in the 'middle market', in essence the commercial
Although profitable, foreign banking interests will
probably find managing the plethora of clients in this sector
An added incentive for developing this sector of the
market is the encouragement given by the Reconstruction and
Development Programme to small and medium-size business
On the customer service front, Nedbank is developing a
closer relationship with its clients by 'taking banking to the
A concrete manifestation of the concept was the recent installation of an
in-store bank in the Buxton Spar in Westville, Johannesburg.
Nedbank swiped the idea from American banks which opened
in-store branches during normal shopping hours to make banking
facilities more accessible for clients at points of purchase.
Another acclaimed Nedbank client service first is on-line
TV links between clients in remote regions and a central
banking area. The system allows clients access to a
comprehensive range of banking facilities. Although it
eliminates the need for staff in remote areas, the TV concept
allows clients and bank officials to maintain personal, visual
and audio contact.
A price-related response from ...
ABI launched the Buddy Bottle in a price-related response
by Coke to the growing numbers of competitors, including
store-brand colas. Buddy is a 250 ml non-returnable bottle
sold exclusively to schools. The price: only 99 cents each.
The rationale behind the introduction of the Buddy Bottle
To gain consumer loyalty from a young age by
adapting product, packaging and distribution
strategies to meet the needs of the youth;
To encourage environmental awareness by providing
schools with glass recycling banks as well as
publicising the slogan 'Coke cares'.
To use the recently developed Partners In Education
project to award points to schools for each case of
the beverage sold. Schools accumulate and redeem
these points for sports equipment, stationery and
other school equipment.
The company also plans to reduce production costs by
blowing its own two-litre and 1,5-litre plastic bottles. The
savings realised by cutting out the current bottle suppliers,
Metal Box and Crown Cork, may be passed on to consumers in the
form of price reductions.
ABI is also vigorously upgrading its image, which projected a picture of a
monopolistic and uncaring business. To this end, the company has embarked on
an intensive training course aimed at improving customer relations and
ABI isn't new to social responsibility projects. For
example, it financed the Africa Cultural Trust Multi-Media
Centre, a project designed to help underprivileged school
children develop their skills.
The company never publicised its involvement in community upliftment projects because management believed that the
support it gave to such projects was for ethical and not
But time has changed ethical standards.
Arch rival Pepsi will seek to create the impression that
it isn't returning solely to make profits but to help improve
living standards among the country's underprivileged, alleges ABI.
To counteract Pepsi propaganda and reverse its non-caring
image, ABI now intends to publicise its involvement in
community support and upliftment projects.
How do you combat a reputation for poor service in the eat
out and 'ready-to-go' sector of the food market?
You standardise, asserts ...
To reverse its 'not very good service' image, Pizza Hut
now insists that all affiliated outlets display product
specification charts in back-of-the-house areas. These show
the required weights of toppings on the different types of
pizzas offered, to ensure standardisation throughout the
The group takes the concept of a uniform corporate look
and feeling a step further by insisting that all employees
wear standard T-shirts, sweaters, jackets, shirts, ties and
While this may project an effective corporate image that
may instil confidence in consumers, what does Pizza Hut do
that actually enhances the quality of its customer service?
It employs an independent agent, Super Service, to test
and report back on standards of quality and service.
Super Service sends a mystery shopper to various Pizza Hut
restaurants without the knowledge of the management or staff.
The mystery shopper critiques and evaluates the stores on the
standard of waiter service and the quality of food served.'
Top marks go to waiters who:
High scores go to restaurants that serve well-cooked
pizzas abundantly filled with tasty cheese and served with the
required toppings. Mystery callers also evaluate delivery
efficiency and how cashiers answer the phone. The minimum
pass mark: 80%.
Offer premium products, advocates...
Nando's offers a premium product and people don't mind
paying a little more for it.
'As long as customers get the quality they expect from
us,' says Joseph Joffe, 'they won't bitch about price. When we
put up our prices by 10%, we didn't receive a single
As a matter of policy, Nando's won't discount its
products. Instead, it will rather offer customers added
value, such as free Cokes with specific meals.
The 'taste of Portugal' chain of outlets believes that
drastic price-cutting lowers the consumer's perception of the
Customer satisfaction is the name of the game, according to ...
Faced with the threat of increasing competition from
sophisticated offshore operations eager to enter the South
African market, industrial catering group Fedics has developed
a strategic plan that centres on customer satisfaction.
Group management, in fact, identifies customer
satisfaction as the main source of long-term competitive
advantage and profitability.
Managing director David Wigley explains how Fedics plans
to achieve its long-term objective. 'To be first-choice
caterer demands an ability to provide, consistently, tasty and
appealing food, the best value for money and the highest
service standards; in other words, to make quality the common
thread of all activities.'
Link pricing to inflation, proposes ...
Foreign firms will have a hard time competing with Simba
in the local snack market on the basis of price. The company
has developed a defensive pricing structure whereby management
takes pricing decisions either ahead of or with inflation.
And management holds these prices constant for two years.
Simba last increased prices in September 1993. The next
price increase is scheduled for September 1995, but won't
necessarily be implemented.
No offshore company will be able to enter the South
African market at 1993 prices and hold them constant for two
years, asserts marketing director Johan de Jager.
High start-up costs will deflect foreign interests, says ...
Snack manufacturer Willards, recently taken over by
National Brands, agrees that foreign raiders will run into
heavy weather if they attempt to enter the South African
market by price-cutting.
Product manager Hilton Loring reckons most will be
rebuffed by the need to make heavy investments in high-tech
packaging plants, which account for up to 70% of the cost of
He raises another point: price-cutting won't survive
through the short to medium-term because shareholders will
want paybacks within two to three years.
Correct marketing techniques are essential, according to ...
Nestlé has launched a vigorous defence strategy to protect
its popular Bar-One and Smarties confectionery lines against
Mars and M&Ms, manufactured by the American Mars Company.
Mars Bars and M&Ms, marketed in South Africa by Royal-
Beechnut, used a niche marketing technique to enter the local
market. Since they were premium-priced and could be found
only in upmarket areas, their threat to Nestlé's popular Bar-
One and Smarties product lines was negligible.
After they secured a toe-hold in the market, Royal- Beechnut began
distributing them on a mass-marketing basis to broaden its share. But
consumers continued to perceive them as expensive.
Nestlé reinforced this perception by giving huge discounts
to retailers and through temporary price promotions.'
In some stores, Bar-One undercuts Mars Bars by 60 cents a
Flatten the structure to improve customer services, advocates ...
A leading player in South Africa's fashion retail market,
Sales House admits to worrying about competing with offshore
companies, particularly American-based chains known for their
excellent customer service.
To overcome the problems posed by 'notoriously bad'
customer service, the company has launched a massive education
campaign that cuts across departmental lines, according to
marketing chief Penny Lloyd.
The customer service education programme involves
personnel from sales and merchandise management who are
responsible for ensuring availability of the right product in
the right place in the right quantities at the right time. It
also involves those who deal with customer queries and
Although the retail chain acknowledges that foreign price-
cutting may be 'a real problem', management is unfazed by the
Invaders won't be able to sustain price-cutting policies
for ever, it argues. The company is also confident that its
intimate knowledge of local conditions with regard to
distribution, labour, manufacturing, availability of materials
and working conditions will reduce the effects of price-
cutting 'get in' strategies.
Adopt American techniques, suggests ...
To overcome problems related to customer service, Edgars
has adopted and adapted many proven American techniques. For
example Edgars used Nordstrom, the American retail chain known
for superb customer service, as a role model for its footwear
and 'intimate wear' departments, in which personal service is
Nordstrom employs only university students and graduates
as sales assistants because they're more competent to handle
customer queries and complaints.
By following the same strategy in certain departments, Edgars plans to give greater customer satisfaction, which
should lead to a higher perceived level of service.
How will Edgars deal with a price-led foreign attack?
Graham Garden says the fashion chain would have two
Ignore the lower prices and focus on producing
fashionable, high quality merchandise.
Cut prices to meet those of the opposition.
If Edgars chooses the second option, it has the financial
muscle of The South African Breweries to sustain it during a
price war. If it doesn't want to bruise its bottom line and
see profits plummet, the chain will somehow have to 'maintain
its return on inventory investment'. In other words, it will
have to increase sales to counteract the effects of sliding
According to Garden, the chain can increase the turnover
rate of merchandise by deploying higher levels of technology.
A first move in this direction was the installation at the end
of 1994 of a sophisticated electronic system that links sales
agents, factories and warehouses. The so-called Electronic
Data Interchange (EDI) system significantly reduces lead times
to have merchandise on the floor quicker.
Move upmarket, says ...
Roz Designs intends avoiding confrontation with Pacific
Rim price-cutters by targeting more upmarket segments and
adjusting prices and products accordingly. Since profit
margins on casual wear for the mass market are 'very small',
Roz Designs hopes to see margins increase by going upmarket.
Don't take any chances, advises ...
CHUBB FIRE SECURITY
The company believes that price will play a minor role in
foreign 'get in' strategies.
A worldwide survey of potential competitors shows that
invaders will seek out perceived product quality and service
differences. Instead of cutting prices, invaders will rather
look towards a perceived difference in quality and service to
achieve market share.
But Chubb isn't taking any chances. It has developed a
contingency strategy to cope with unexpected price-cutting by
competitors. It uses the following three-pronged matrix:
Is the price cut likely to hurt sales? If not, hold
If yes, is the price cut likely to be permanent? If
not hold prices.
If yes, for a price cut of less than 2%, maintain
prices. For a 2% to 4% price cut, drop prices 1% to
For a price cut of 4% or more, meet the price.
Use enhanced customer service, asserts ...
AMERICAN EXPRESS TRAVEL SERVICE
Although American Express Travel Service (AMEX) has little
direct control of pricing, which is determined by hotels,
airlines and car rental companies, it uses 'enhanced customer
service' as a potent weapon to fight off competitors.
Currently under consideration: implementation of the
internationally recognised ISO 9001 level of customer service.
Meanwhile, the company has developed and implemented a
strategy to raise the quality level of service. The plan
offering discount packages to regular corporate clients;
introducing a follow-up service questionnaire for each overseas trip
and closely monitoring the responses;
developing monthly call patterns;
implementing regular sales and product training programmes for branch
proactively upgrading client travel and entertainment policies;
ensuring that client needs and expectations are met by actively
training staff in customer service techniques;
ensuring that all clients' personal records are constantly upgraded;
upgrading the quality of presentations at branch level, and
developing existing and new client bases.
Be ready for the invasion, says ...
Foreign car rental companies offer their clients far
better service than do local operators, says Richard McGhee,
of Budget Rent-A-Car.
The service they'll give South African customers could very well out-perform
that provided by local car rental companies. 'They always treat customers
like kings. And customer convenience is a built-in service standard.
'Imagine renting a car for a day, having it delivered to your residential
address in the morning and picked up at night at no extra charge.'
Service of this calibre is sure to appeal to customers. But it doesn't give
McGhee sleepless nights.
'We'll be ready for them,' he asserts, citing Budget's improved service that
the free provision of baby seats;
hand controls for the disabled;
tracing and returning lost goods;
passing on messages, and
a network of conveniently located outlets and depots.
Don't compete with price-cutters; jack up cabin passenger service,
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS
South African Airways (SAA) faces a unique set of pricing
and customer service problems.
Let's start with pricing.
Most major competitors charge the same for flights on the
For example, you pay R12 070 [at the time of writing] to
fly business class return from Johannesburg to New York via
Brussels regardless of the airline you select. And you pay
R4 070 to fly to New York via London whether you travel with SAA or British Airways.
So the airline competes on the basis of customer service.
But the tilt of the playing field is biased against SAA
when competing against Air Portugal, Air France and Greek and
Air Portugal received a $1 000-million cash injection in
the form of a government subsidy. Every time SAA tried to
compete, Air Portugal dropped its prices.
So SAA stopped competing with Air Portugal.
Greek and Italian airlines also get government handouts.
So does Air France, which received a $4-billion subsidy and
still flies in and out of South Africa at a loss.
So SAA stopped competing with Air France.
Small, continuous improvements
On the customer service front, SAA employs the philosophy
of 'continual constructive dissatisfaction'. It calls for
small, continuous improvements like those advocated in
Japanese management programmes.
Its principles are embodied in SAA's Passport To Success programme, based on
the indigenous concept of Ubuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu. Loosely translated, this means passing good service
down the line from one employee to the next until it finally
reaches the customer.
SAA has also revised its cabin crew recruitment programme
to combat passenger perceptions of excellent service offered
by foreign airlines.
The airline now employs only people with natural aptitudes
for customer service in customer contact positions. As a
result, SAA's First Class service is rated among the world's
top 10 although SAA is only the world's 40th largest airline.
In addition, South Africa's national airline runs regular
passenger satisfaction surveys to monitor the quality of
service delivered in relation to service expectations.
However, the main focus is on the manner in which staff
interact with customers. In this regard, SAA's service
strategy is very similar to the 'moment of truth' strategy
employed by Jan Carlzon, of Scandinavian Airlines. He
believes that success depends on the average 15-second contact
between frontline staff and customers.
Understand your customers, says ...
THE SOUTHERN SUN GROUP
This philosophy, adopted by the Southern Sun Group, has
led to several innovations:
The introduction of a Customer Loyalty Programme.
This entitles selected cardholders to discounts that
depend on the amount of business they give to Southern
Accommodation discount packages in association with SAA and British Airways
Although Southern Sun is prepared to take on price-cutting
competitors, management doesn't believe foreign hotel chains
can hold low prices for an extended period.
Because site owners and developers wouldn't countenance poor returns for
For example, the ISCOR Pension Fund owns the new Hyatt
Hotel under construction in Rosebank, Johannesburg. And ISCOR
would soon start to raise a fuss if the Hyatt tried to
undercut prices for too long.
Avoid head-on price clashes is the advice from ...
The manufacturer of health-care, beauty and cleaning
products has no immediate plans to change its price structures
and would prefer to avoid a head-on price war with Proctor &
While P&G, with its huge financial resources, may be
prepared to operate in South Africa at a loss for up to five
years to get market share, it's known to dislike wild price
swings because they eventually erode customer loyalty.
Because P&G prefers maintaining prices for long periods, SmithKline Beecham
will have time to adjust the prices of its directly competitive products on
an individual basis, 'reaping money from cash cows to support the process'.
Fight fire with fire, says ...
Will price-cutting by overseas competitors play havoc with
local pricing structures in the chemical industry? Sentrachem's Norman Kennelly, answers with an indefinite
'maybe'. But even if they enter by slashing, they won't be
able to maintain low prices indefinitely, he says.
Because Sentrachem's infrastructure has been in place for
years, competitors starting from scratch in the local market
will find price under-cutting an exceptionally costly
If it has to, Kennelly says Sentrachem 'will fight fire
He raises another point. In the chemical industry, competitors don't
appear overnight. It takes months, sometimes years, to set up plants. This
gives the South African public and entrenched chemical operations time to
react to fluctuations in pricing.
Taking these factors into account, it seems highly unlikely that price
under-cutting is a viable option.
Use multi-layer marketing, suggests ...
SASOL Phenolics gives customer service high priority.
The organisation has established a special relationship
with its customers through 'multi-layer marketing'.
To ensure loyalty, it entices customers into long-term
(normally 10 to 15-year) contracts by offering them financial
assistance with their capital equipment needs.
And if competitors offer customers specific products at
lower prices, they're invited to contact SASOL about the price
In most cases, customers don't find it worth switching to
a new supplier because service levels, to which they have
become accustomed, are different.
The organisation usually shies away from price-cutting.
It contends that although such tactics are common with sales
people, customers tend to play one off against another to
create a deepening downward spiral.
But while SASOL frowns on price-cutting as a long-term
strategy, it will use price as a short-term tactic to squeeze
new competitors out of the market.
Most of the participating companies harped on price. The
majority also referred to customer service - almost as an
afterthought. Just what they planned to do to raise levels of
service quality was usually cloaked in woolly verbiage.
So what should you do to ...
UPGRADE THE QUALITY OF YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE?
Here's a 25-point action plan you can implement
Think like your customers.
Exceed your customers' expectations.
Deliver what you promise. And a bit more.
Constantly add small innovations to make your product
different and explain the differences to your
Give your customers what they want; not what you think
Listen to your customers, and act on what they tell
Always take decisive action.
Invest time in your customers.
Don't make excuses - do it right the first time.
Speed up response times.
Shorten the supply chain from manufacturer to
Be specific. Don't make vague promises.
Establish friendly relationships with your customers.
Become involved in your customers' businesses so that
you understand what they want.
Make your customers 'partners' in your business so
they understand your problems.
Tell your customers that you care. Do it regularly.
Sell your customers a promise that only you can
Create elements that are unique to your business -
elements that lift you above the herd.
Be consistent in attitude, dress and service delivery. Deliver the same
excellent results every time.
Always speak to your customers in a language they understand.
Keep your customers informed. Phone them, write to them, send them
newsletters. Keep in contact.
Motivate and train your employees. Empower them to make on-the-spot
decisions in the interests of World Class Customer Service.
Set realisable and measurable goals for your customer service
Constantly monitor the results.
If you want to find out quickly how you rate ...
PENALISE YOURSELF IF YOU DON'T DELIVER WHAT YOU PROMISE
For example, a progressive, customer-focused bank in the United States gives
$5 to every customer who waits for longer than five minutes in the queue.
And a restaurant in Austria doesn't charge you for your meal if you wait
longer than five minutes to be served.
If these self-imposed penalties were implemented in South Africa, many of
the banks and restaurants I visit would quickly be running at a loss at
present levels of customer service.
But that's not all
If you get your price right and jack up the quality of your service to give
customers fewer grounds for complaint, you're on your way. But you're by no
means home and dry. You still have the unenviable task of casting a
jaundiced eye over your management, marketing and distribution structures