Top entrepreneurs, firms talk service innovation

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A CUSTOMER service symposium held last week attracted Zimbabwe’s top entrepreneurs and firms, including quoted companies who gathered in Harare to explore strategies on how the country could catch up with the rest of the world on issues of service quality.
Organised by the Contact Centre Association Zimbabwe, the dialogue sought new insights into effective service delivery in both the public and private sectors and brought together big corporate names such as Econet Wireless, Steward Bank, Zol, Zesa Holdings, Colcom, Zimnat, Powertel and Frolgate.

Speakers pointed out that Zimbabwe lagged behind in the global movement towards service quality and customer satisfaction. They blamed this stagnation on the decline of the middle class, the country’s high economic informality and widespread poverty, which have eroded affluence among consumers.

In a low-income economy, businesses tend to compete on price rather than service innovation, which creates a predominantly provider-centric approach to service delivery.

Nigel Chanakira, a local entrepreneur who chairs the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, gave the keynote address and stressed the importance of customer retention and total quality management, giving an example of his experience at the Four Seasons Hotel.

Chanakira also challenged service providers to shift to customer-oriented approaches, saying it was the most sustainable way of promoting long-term growth and profitability.

Other delegates included Zol CEO Denny Marandure and Shingi Munyeza, the former CEO and shareholder of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed hotels group African Sun.

Speaking on the role of technology in improving customer service, Powertel marketing manager Prosper Mutswiri said technology had exposed customers to global innovations and given them greater choice in living acquired lifestyles.

In response, Mutswiri said businesses cannot survive unless they embraced service innovation and prioritised customer experience in order to meet the needs of niche market segments where customers demand services that match their tastes, preferences and lifestyles.

“Technology has redefined segmentation and customers have moved from mass market to amoeba and now we have what we call conformance customers where todays customers demand tailor made services,” Mutswiri.

“Imagine the emergency of internet of things and the cause behind. Nowadays customers would like to enjoy medical attendance in the comfort of their homes and this poses a challenge to an organisation offering the service.

“The organisation has to look for innovative ways of getting to the customer. Customers have simply moved from demanding ordinary care to quality care. Anything less than this will not keep your customer.”

Powertel Communications is a subsidiary of the Zesa Holdings.–newsday.co.zw

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