THE retention of customers through good service delivery is critical for the survival of businesses against the backdrop of shrinking disposable incomes.
This was the main take away from the inaugural Lesotho Retail Forum Panel Discussion held at AVANI Lesotho last Friday.
Among the aims of the forum was to create a platform for consumers and players in the retail sector to share experiences on service delivery and to brainstorm ways of improvement.
Mamosa Makaya, who is founder and administrator of a Facebook consumer feedback group dubbed “Fame or Shame of Retail Service in Lesotho” said it was imperative for consumers and businesses to understand each other better.
“Customers should feel free to voice their concerns when they enter a shop,” Ms Makaya, whose Facebook group has more than 11 000 members, said.
“Each customer experiences different problems, and we would like to help them solve them in the best way we can.”
She said the initial goal for starting Fame or Shame was to help customers to have an open and intelligent dialogue and enable them to voice their concerns to management of franchises and other local management.
“We would like to ensure that in future we don’t have customers who are afraid to demand the kind of service they need and be able to hold the retailer accountable for their actions,” Ms Makaya said.
Some of the concerns raised by customers on the group include the searching of female customers by male security guards at shop entrances.
“If the customer does not feel comfortable with having her belongings searched, then she should be able to take those problems to management,” Ms Makaya said.
In instances where a product is bought back due to failure to meet the customer’s standards, she said management should refund them or replace it with another product.
“At times customers experience difficulties in returning food that has passed its expiration date because the package would have already been opened. Management need to be open to discussions and to offer a solution.
“We want customers to be eager enough to tell management what can be improved, have an open and intellectual dialogue where they are well informed of their rights as customers and be vocal about the issues,” Ms Makaya added.
Pick ‘n Pay General Manager, Samual Mphana, said his organisation’s operational philosophy was premised on the “four legs of the table” referring to administration, merchandise, promotion of social responsibility and investing in people.
“We want to be admired for the way we operate,” he said.
“This is why we encourage our customers to participate in the change of the products that we sell in our store. We want to be known for quality, value for money and good service.
“Only then can we say we have built a relationship between our staff and our customers. This is our country and it will only grow if we take the responsibility to grow it.”