Columnists Features

Taking customer care messages to another level

Torn Apart: BOYD PHIRI
IT IS obvious that people in the hood are now used to receiving Zesco’s daily notices on load shedding and power cuts, a customer service tool which in the past was seen as a preserve of rich neighbourhoods.
For the past few years, the power utility company has been giving residents regular alerts to prepare them for impending hours without electricity.
Any wonder, you don’t hear people in the hood complaining about Zesco favouring rich neighbourhoods when it comes to notices on power cuts, let alone load shedding.
In the past you would hear people in down-trodden areas saying, “Ba zibisa chabe ba kuma yadi,” meaning, “they only give notices to residents in affluent areas.”
But now at the click of a button on the phone everyone in the hood would be in the know about impending load-shedding.
Not that load-shedding is something they take pride in for its nocturnal activities, but the thing is, it has brought relief that Zesco has considered them for prior notices.
“Dear customer, be advised that Kalikiliki and surrounding areas are scheduled for load-shedding tomorrow from 14:00 hours to 22:00 hours. We regret the inconvenience this may cause,” the Zesco message would read.
Of course, when you are expecting notifications of salaries in your account from your bank, this is not the message you would want to receive first.
Besides, the most annoying part of this message is the concluding part which says, “We regret the inconvenience this may cause.”
It is almost as if it is spelling doom on your salary notifications you are expecting to receive from the bank on your mobile phone.
No wonder you hear some people cursing each time they receive the message, especially when it is not the one they are expecting to see first.
“Ah! It’s a message from Zesco, I am expecting a message from my bank,” one would say.
But disappointing as this message might be to some people, it gets me thinking, what if sex workers started posting notices to their clients about their non-availability?
“Dear customer, be advised that we won’t be available at your regular joint tomorrow. We regret the inconvenience this may cause.”
Certainly, this would bring sanity to the old profession in terms of customer care.
What if their regular clients also start sending messages to their sex workers?
“Dear sex worker, be advised that I will not be available at my regular watering hole tomorrow because my wife is back from the village and wants to take stock of what I have been doing when she was away. I regret the inconvenience this may cause.”
Definitely, sex workers would feel part of a society that appreciates the importance of customer care services.
What if traffic police officers started informing motorists through text messages about their intention to mount a roadblock?
“Dear motorist, be advised that there will be a roadblock on Great East Road near UNZA tomorrow. Make sure you carry with you some money if you choose to use the route just in case we ask you to see our boss in a vehicle parked on the roadside under a tree. We regret the inconvenience this will cause.”
What if landlords in the hood started sending some text messages to their tenants about their impending visits?
“Dear tenant, be advised that I will knock on your door at 04:00 hours AM tomorrow to collect my rentals. I regret the inconvenience this may cause to your conjugal rights.”
Certainly, such messages would attract protests in the hood and it would not be surprising to hear people saying, “Boma iyanganepo – Government should do something.”
What if thieves started sending messages to people in the hood to notify them about an impending robbery in the area?
“Dear resident, we will stage some robberies in Kalingalinga and surrounding areas tomorrow. We regret the inconvenience this would cause.”
Of course, ZICTA would not allow thieves to abuse its facilities to peddle messages of doom.
Talking about doom, what if shop-keepers in the hood started sending text messages to their regular customers to let them know about a shortage of Doom.
“Dear customer, be advised that we’ll not have Doom in stock on Sunday because one prophet has bought all of it to use for anointing. We regret the inconvenience this will cause.”
In case you have not heard, some fake prophets are using insecticide Doom as a medium of anointing.
Of course, this does not mean that the ‘men of God’ have run out of water in their homes, but one thing is sure, they are taking their madness to another level.
I bet the bodies of those who committed suicide using Doom are turning in their graves because of what the so-called prophets are now doing.
At least you now know how people in the hood have appreciated messages from Zesco, even water utility companies such as Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company.
If you see a text message from your landlord in the format of those from Zesco, don’t be surprised.
He is just tapping into the power utility’s tool of dealing with esteemed customers in the hood.

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