Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Finally some good customer service.

Customer service in Kenya is completely backwards.

It drives me up the wall.

My mother owned a retail store while I was growing up. She was an amazing saleslady with her number one priority being to get the customer what they need. Her business did very well  and people grew to love and trust her. After watching her for 9 years, I picked up the same skills and mentality that she had. I have a pretty good handle on what customer service really is.

In Canada (and other developed countries), the salesperson or business owner depends on the customer to bring in their income. Therefore, their greatest interest is to serve the customer in a way so that they will keep coming back and buying their products. They value the customer because they realize that, without the customer, there would be no business.

Kenya is the complete opposite.

The business owner in Kenya often has the mentality that they are providing a service to their customers since, without them, their customers won't have what they need to survive.

A couple examples:


  • I go up to the desk to pay for my item. I hand the cashier (often the person who owns the business) a large bill. He doesn't have any change (which is always the case in Kenya). He then looks at me as if it is MY problem that HE doesn't have change for me. He expects me to start rummaging through my purse to see if I can muster up enough coins while he sits there and stares at me impatiently. I usually drop what I wanted to purchase and leave the store to find someone else who has change. 
  • Matatus, privately owned public transport, pick people up at any point on the side of the road. I will stand at the roadside and see a matatu coming with the conductor signalling to me to see if I want to get in. I raise my eyebrows showing him that I chose his matatu to get in to. The matatu then screeches to a halt a few feet ahead of me. As I am walking towards it, the conductor then says,"Ah, faster mummy, faster!" I take a good look at him and step away from the car. YOU need ME to get into your car so that YOU can get my money yet YOU are RUSHING ME? No thanks, I will just wait for the next matatu. There are plenty of them. 

And the list goes on. 

I realize that I making some big generalizations here. Not all Kenyans are like this. Let me tell you about Louisa. 

Two weeks ago I was complaining to my friend Louisa about how itchy my bed bug bites are (yes, I am still battling those pesky bugs). She mentioned to me a product that she sells that would help with that itchiness. She explains to me the company and give me all the information. I then remember a friend telling me about another product from this same company that she said works really well. So I ask my friend Louisa about it and she gave me more details. I was intrigued. She then suggests that we meet at a certain time and place and look into it a bit more. 

Today we finally met after a few weeks of trying to catch each other. She came all the way to where I was so that it was convenient for me. She sat me down and explained to me everything. She even reassured me that my money would be returned after 30 days if I didn't like the product (which means that she wouldn't get her commission). Her genuine interest was my need. She really wanted to help me out. She knew her products really well and took the time to discuss them all with me and answer all my questions. By the end of our meeting, I wanted to buy everything from her. I ended up walking out with a product (and a few extra ones) that I feel confident about. 

Finally some great customer service. 

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