Customer Care is Not Enough: Do More, Say Less, Be Better

In case the title didn’t aptly cover it, here’s a little explanation of what inspired this piece.

Yesterday morning, flights landing at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport were rerouted to neighboring countries’ runways. Reason being – to the best of my knowledge – that there was no power at the airport. The runway lights were off or not functioning, basically. I laughed.

You see, I had just seen the new KPLC…sorry, Kenya Power (roll eyes with me) ad*. And somewhere in the ad, I swear I saw planes taking off or landing. The irony was too blatant for a bored designer such as myself to not kill 25 minutes doing these mock ads.

Jokes aside, I didn’t stop churning these out by choice. Further irony imposed itself in the form of the blackout that knocked out my internet, halting my twitpic comedy hour prematurely. But why, you may ask, the ridicule?

First, let me just say that I’m not completely impressed by KPLC’s rebranding campaign. I’m impressed by the effort to improve their image, the ideas I’ve heard floated around but the execution is still too hazy to applaud. Yes, their customer care has greatly improved. These days when you call you actually get an answer and, sometimes, there’s even action taken. The other difference is these days you call a lot more. At least I do. We used to lose power maybe once or twice a week at my place; lately it’s a flip of the coin. One day it’s there, the next it’s not. Sometimes it’s a blackout, other times it’s a transformer or something. Even with the cuts, it still costs A LOT more. Our electricity bill is a little bit out of control and I’m pretty sure everyone else’s is too. So, riddle me this, Kenya Power, if we’re paying more and the only thing we’re getting is worse service and better customer care, is it safe to assume we’re funding your PR campaign? Effort appreciated but where’s the matching service?

Customer Care

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still huge on Customer Care. Not because I want people to be nice to us; I just want everyone to do their jobs. My chronicles with Nokia and Safaricom stand as testament to this.

What some of you do not know is the aftermath. As promised, I did sell my phone; but before I did, the guys at Nokia quickly(within hours) came to the rescue, apologizing and offered to fix the phone in what I believe was about 20 minutes for zero charge. By the time we got to the store, they had put up the Warranty on the walls and even had a pull-up banner with additional information. I was also informed by a little bird somewhere that the culprits behind the misdeeds had been either terminated or reassigned. In short, Nokia were proactive about the situation and followed up with me every step of the way even though they knew I was not a returning customer. Beyond that, they even sent us an apology gift and have remained in contact with us since. For this reason, I must say I’m impressed and have made my peace with Nokia. I salute all the people there, especially Dorothy.

Safaricom on the other hand called me about 2 days after Nokia. Which is funny considering they are local and really, I bought the phone from them. I spoke to some senior folks there and they were nice and cordial and one was actually quite funny. I’m vaguely certain no offer was made to resolve the issue of the damaged handset; probably because Nokia had already sorted it out. I was asked for a few details here and there and issued very sincere apologies by Nzioka(kudos to him). My only request in parting was that they not only rectify the issue, but that they keep me abreast on what’s going on. Because eventually, I was going to write this. Well, let’s just say I haven’t heard of this issue since. So I just assume that nothing has happened, right?

Which is really the point of all this. Niceties amount to nothing when follow up actions are unseen or unheard of. Whereas Nokia made me feel like ‘Even though you’ve given up on us – and we were wrong – we haven’t given up on you.’, Safaricom handed me an exit survey, said sorry and wished me good luck; which isn’t bad, but it also isn’t enough.

Neither is KPLC Kenya Power’s new image or any one of the multitude of companies rebranding and cleaning up their images. What good is a well-groomed salesman without goods or delivery?

These are only examples but the point remains. Whether it’s Airtel’s forever ‘coming soon’ 3G or City Council’s endless promises to fine people and take action, or the new Constitution and Vision 2030; we hear a lot of talk and see very little execution. At some point it stops being funny and starts being annoying. Let’s nip it in the bud while it’s still a bloggable offense, shall we?

* I’m sure the Kenya Power ad has been running for a while, but seeing as I don’t watch TV, this was my first time seeing it.

Update:

10 thoughts on “Customer Care is Not Enough: Do More, Say Less, Be Better

  1. Speaking of another company of the list of Shame…BATA. guys selling kicks Gikomba have much better customer service. Think their sales reps need to be paid on commission so that they don’t just ignore customers when they walk in their stores.

    • Bata is a very random company, IMO. Went to a Bata store in Canada once; amazing experience. Bata stores here border on frustrating. One lady once rolled her eyes when I asked her if they had another color of sneakers as if to say “Do you see another color here? Gosh!” I immediately walked out.

  2. We issued a press statement this morning about the JKIA incident pointing out the fact that the fault did not originate from our end:

    JKIA POWER SUPPLY INTERRUPTION – CLARIFICATION

    Following various media reports regarding the electrical power supply outage at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Sunday morning, Kenya Power wishes to clarify the following:
    • That the Kenya Airports Authority owns and operates the electrical power network inside the airport
    • That the power outage was caused by a faulty underground cable in the airport’s own electrical network.
    • That due to the underground cable fault, initial attempts to switch on power from the Kenya Power sub station failed.
    • That following the incident, Kenya Airports Authority electrical maintenance team requested Kenya Power to assist in troubleshooting and addressing the problem.
    • Kenya Power sent in its electrical plant and underground cable teams to work with the airport team and, by 7.35 a.m. the faulty cable inside the airport was identified and isolated and power restored.

    ENDS…………………….
    Fore more information, contact:
    KPLC Corporate Communications Dept.
    Tel: 3201639/47 or email communications@kplc.co.ke

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  4. Kevin Sang, you are missing the point. The fact is, Kenya Power(less) does not deliver on what it promises, Ok. The JKIA incidence was just but a straw that broke the camel’s back. You have not addressed the issues raised by the author in this posting. The single glaring querry the author is asking is this, when will Kenya Power(less) stop giving excuses and be responsive to clients needs? The day your monopoly will finally come down and the likes of EDF, ESKOM and Scottish Power finally land on our shores, is the day you Kevin personally will lose your job, and Kenya Power(less) will cease to exist; because whatever the cost, no Kenyan will want to do business with you any more. You can take my word to the bank!

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