Columnists Features

Is this how to do business?


AFTER delivering my small farm produce at this big chicken rearing farm, I realised that their cash-on-delivery policy was just a cliché which ended up irritating many of other suppliers I had found.
I had delivered my soya beans which was so much on demand that I was told to wait outside the gate to be called back in for my money. With excitement I thought I would soon be done and get back home with cash. That never was the case. I was made to wait for a much longer period.
Soon the crowd could not stand it. We approached the administration demanding for an explanation for the delay in getting our payment in time, there was no satisfying answer coming forth, much to the irritation of the crowd. When tempers began to fly high as the crowd forced itself into the administration premises, one of the personnel came over and asked, “Is this how you do business?”
I followed the gentleman and, with respect, threw the question back at him. “Is this how you do business yourselves? You tell your clients that it’s cash-on-delivery and yet it’s not the case. You barricade them and make them wait outside the gate where there are no facilities such as toilets, canteen, or water. And for eight hours they stand in the dust waiting in vain without a single apology. Sir, is this how you do business?” he looked defeated as he shook his head.
I kept repeating the phrase to myself even as it reminded me of the same phrase in the move, Captain Philips in which Tom Hanks acted as Phillips alongside that interesting Somali-American Barkhad Abdi. I have not watched Hanks do non-comical movies as deftly as this one.
The film depicts the cruelty and harsh conditions to which the pirates subjected the captain and his crew before American Sea Navy came to their rescue. Even after the captain had given the pirates bundles of US dollars, they were not left alone that he ended up asking the ring leader “Is this how you do business?”
And I am persuaded to ask the same question to those business people who are dishonest in the way they handle their clients. When a customer pays you for a service and you give it to him but wrapped in mediocrity, is this how you do business? The same question I ask to utility companies who pathetic on supplying their services to their clients, is this how you do business?
When your dedicated and hardworking workers go for months without a salary and you still demand much from them, is this how you do business?
I got frustrated and have since stopped using this international courier company to service me if ever it’s a package headed to Southern Province. In April this year, I bought myself some magazines from Book World in Lusaka and so I told my friend to use this courier company. The mail took over two weeks to reach me in Monze from Lusaka. At first I understood and believed the reasons cited for the delay and I gave the firm a benefit of the doubt. But when I forwarded my university assignment 14 days before it was due, it was the same frustrating story. The consignment took a day to reach Lusaka but over 15 days to be dispatched to Monze.
Many business people take their clients for granted. This is not how to do business. A customer should not be taken for granted. No matter how insignificant the monies may appear in the transaction, a client deserves respect.
Is this how you do business when a customer comes into your shop and you as a waiter or waitress take forever to serve them and you can’t even smile or extend a greeting?
A client should not be held at ransom. Isn’t it irritating to be put on hold for ‘just a moment’ which becomes forever when calling customer care of a given GSM network provider? A client should be treated with all due respect because no matter how insignificant or peasantry he or she may be, they are the bosses.
Mediocrity, indifference, arrogance and so on are a bad taste for business and should be replaced with a business ethos built on integrity, efficiency, customer satisfactory etc.
The author is a chaplain for Mupapa Secondary School for the Seventh-Day Adventists in Copperbelt Province and reading for a BA in journalism and communication at Rusangu University.

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