Perhaps the most emotional and uplifting elements in our recent Consumer Watchdog Conference were the service stars we celebrated. They were the real stars of the event, the ones deserving the greatest recognition.

These were individuals who had demonstrated the highest levels of customer service over the last year. In the last year we have received about two hundred celebrations of such people. We took that list and narrowed it down to about fifty and then gave that list to an independent panel of business people who managed to reduce it to thirteen. These were the people who Former President Mogae helped us recognise at the conference.

All of these people have certain things in common, regardless of whether they work in a bank, a parastatal, an insurance company, a supermarket or the public service. They all have incredible commitment to their employer, their colleagues and above all, their customers but better than that, they all have passion. Real passion.

If you join our Facebook group or look at our blog you can see a video we shot of interviews with all the service stars, but I think some of the things they said need to be published. All of these comments were unrehearsed and unscripted. They were all speaking from the heart.

We asked what they thought great customer service was. One said:

“Excellent customer service is the first impression that you give to the customer. Smiling to the customer, greeting the customer by his name or her name and also selling your products, putting yourself in the shoes of the customer and making the customer feel happy and walkaway with a smile, wowing a customer.”

We asked them where good service comes from. Their comments included:

“Where there is team work there is always good results.”

“Good customer service is something that you learn and nurture. For you to offer good service you need to really understand what a customer means to the business. You really need to have that element of treating people with respect and integrity that they deserve.”

Several of them mentioned the cultural inspiration that helped them offer such amazing service.

“If you have botho you humble yourself and speak in a manner that this particular person you are assisting would understand, and put their trust in, whatever you are serving them with.”

“Good customer service should actually be inculcated through the spirit of botho because once you have botho you know what another person measn to you.”

“Botho is very important because if you treat other people the way you want to be treated it’s going to be easy to work with other people. You have to have passion for helping people, you have to love other people so that it becomes easier when you work with them on a daily basis.”

They told us what we needed to do as a nation to spread this approach.

“Customer service should be taught to the young children so that when they grow up they have to know what is expected in life.”

A police officer told us that: “I think it should be included in the curriculum, because for instance in my organisation customer service is very important, it improves public trust. We need public trust so much.”

Others spoke about their personal motivations.

“For me, seeing a smile on the customer’s face, I mean, it’s what I come for every day”. “That makes my day, to see a customer excited, to have that smile.”

“I think customer service is in me, it’s in you. Customer service is all about building a good relationship between you and the customer. The moment the customer enters through the door that thing should burn. You should be willing to help the customer.”

“I live with a motto which goes ‘my purpose in life is to help others’.”

“Customer service is very easy because what you have to do is just to humble yourself and respect other people and love them. Give them love, show them that you really want to help them.”

“Yes, it is a stressful job but if you like your job it’s not!”

A public servant from the Ministry of Labour and Home Affairs (who I hope is destined for a senior position) told us that: “We need to really up our game and help our citizens and our visitors.”

One of my personal favourites is a police officer. He said that: “I would like to encourage all members of the Police Service to strive to be the best in whatever service they render to the public because that is essential especially for winning public trust. We need public trust, we need people to trust us because we have been entrusted with protecting them, protecting their property, ensuring their safety. Some people say it’s not part of our culture but I tend to disagree because we have always been practising it and it has always been enrooted in our culture.”

The same police officer told us:

“I would like all of the police to shun mediocrity at work, to be always compassionate when helping members of the public.”

He concluded by saying this, which I think is truly impressive:

“I believe that criminals do deserve good customer care because they are also humans. They are entitled to their rights, they don’t have to have their rights trampled upon just because they are criminals.”

I urge you to take a look at the video clip online. Check our blog and Facebook group to see it. I guarantee you’ll be inspired by these wonderful people, all of whom have demonstrated that they do not just talk about excellent customer service, they deliver it as well.

I promise you that you will be inspired.

If you have any consumer issues please get in touch.  Email us at [email protected], by post to P. Box 403026, Gaborone or by phone on 3904582 or fax on 3911763.  Read the Consumer Watchdog blog at consumerwatchdogbw.blogspot.com and join our Facebook group called “Consumer Watchdog Botswana”.

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