Sunday, December 09, 2007

Is service collapsing in South Africa?

From lazy HR executives to crappily run loyalty programs 1 and clueless call centres, a fair number of major corporates in South Africa seem to be having problems with service.

There are exceptions: Discovery and Outsurance, for example have, thus far, never given me problems, and their bright, well-informed call centre agents are always aware of what's happening.

With other companies, dealing with call centre agents is a matter of luck. A good call centre agent can quickly resolve an issue, and a bad one would have you pulling your hair out in frustration.

A lot of the time, I suppose, training issues and poor IT systems play a part, but at other times, errors can be attributed to pure laziness.

But, unfortunately, the rot in some corporates goes beyond call centres, and the same culture of laziness is infecting other areas of the organisation. South African service consumers are too docile, so I expect things to get worse before they start getting better.

1 Momentum Multiply has improved a little since my last post: they now have online travel bookings, but it's still a rather sloppy option. If you can get Vitality, rather go for that. Interestingly the two examples of good service (Outsurance and Discovery) were both, till recently also members of the FirstRand group -Discovery having beeen unbundled recently- but their customer service ethos and reliability put Momentum to shame.