Executive Interview : 2012 Customer Service Feature - Exclusive Interview With Doctor Ndlovu
As Sales & Service Manager First National Bank in SA, Doctor Ndlovu knows about service. In this feature he shares his experiences and tips
In your opinion, do you believe the customer service you get today from other companies is better or worse than it was say 5 years ago?
It must be worse. Many companies in South Africa are minimising costs and thus, see research activities aimed at improving the quality of service as unnecessary expenses. Most of them are no longer conducting researches.
Do you believe there is a correlation between the service you receive as a consumer and your loyalty to the supplier?
There is no correlation. I buy from my suppliers because I have to. Their customers service is extremely poor.
In your opinion, which industry sectors provide great service and which ones are poor?
Great Service Providers; South African Reciever of revenue, hotels and restaurants
Poor Service Providers; Grocery shops, Governement Institutions, Clothing Stores and other merchants
Can you recall a really good experience recently - where you were WOW'd by the service you received?
I bought a 1 series BMW in Dec 2011. The sales rep explained all the car features, quickly arranged a demo, finance and ordered the car as I wanted it. He made sure that all my needs were met by asking relevant questions and even allowing me to ask questions. He was polite and mantained eye contact, and even thanked me for coming to BMW.
Talking about bad experiences, where do companies go wrong with the service they provide?
Most senior managers in companies do not believe in customer service. Though it might be part of their companies' strategies, they do not allocate resources to it. They do not also demonstrate their commitment to it by providing great service to customers at the presence of their staff. Though Sales and Service go hand in hand, resources are mainly allocated to the former, leaving customers dissatisfied or with many unresolved complaints.
Have you noticed any differences in service from people from different cultures?
No. But an important observation in South Africa is that black employees are not used to providing great service to other blacks because they (some blacks) are not used to tipping. Though it does not happen a lot, the practice if still prevalent mainly in restaurants, car repair centres, and other businesses.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding the use of technology in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Service measurements are important and IT driven. All companies wanting to please their customers should invest in them/ IT.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding staff in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
Excellent service is a key to any company's survival.
If you had to give just 1 tip regarding business processes in relation to improving customer service, what would your tip be?
They must be simplified and only aimed at satisfying customers. Unnecessary steps/ activities within the process that are not adding value to customers service must be removed.
In your opinion, how should contact centers measure the level of service they give?
Always request feedback from customers and confirm the receipt thereof. They must not forget to thank customers for the feedbback and to take corrective actions.
Lastly, can you share with us one of the worst customer service experiences you have experienced recently
Apart from my BMW, I bought another car in Mar 2011. During its 15'000 km and 30'000 km service intervals, the company refused to clean the engine. The reason given was that they did not want to be responsible, in case the engine failed to start. They recommended that I clean its engine at petrol stations or car cleaning centres. They were not polite and its Head Office did not do anything to assist me. The company has poor after-sales service.
Published: Sunday, May 13, 2012
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