Friday 11 August 2006

More things for free

Last week I was extremely generous and gave away some free ideas to various groups including BTC, the Government and road users. At the time of writing this there hadn’t yet been any huge response from any of them saying what excellent ideas they were and they are being implemented immediately but, well, these things take time or so I’m told.

Just in case BTC didn’t get a chance to think about the ideas here is one of the key suggestions all over again.

I think BTC should save some paper, some money and take another leap into the twenty-first century (or perhaps just the twentieth) by distributing the telephone directory electronically. Put it all on the internet so the entire world can find our phone numbers. I know for a fact that BTC have the technical skills to do this, after all they have launched advanced things like ADSL with some success, despite the few teething problems that consumers have reported to us.

Just get my phone number correct in the directory next year, OK?

And now something a bit more interesting. Something for you, the reader.

As you will have seen before we celebrate service stars every week in this column. You can see below a number of people who have been nominated by our readers and by listeners to our new Yarona FM radio show. All of these people have gone way beyond expectations and impressed a customer and they all deserve recognition.

But what should we call them? So far we’ve just called them “service stars” but as part of our recent re-launch we think we need a new name for them, something distinctive, something that will help give them the recognition that they deserve.

So contact us and tell us what YOU think we should call our champions. The person who comes up with the snappiest, most exciting and appropriate new name will win a prize, in fact a few prizes. The first part of the prize will be P600 donated by Standard Chartered Bank. The second part will be an invitation to our next Consumer Watchdog party. As you may remember our last party was quite something and the next one will be even better. The last part of the prize is that you will be invited to help give away the star prizes at the party. You’ll be there to help our VIP recognise the achievement of all the service stars. There is of course no guarantee of who our VIP will be at the next party but who was it last time? Oh yes, the President. Do you fancy standing on stage helping someone like him to give away prizes in front of the press and a couple of hundred people? Then think up a good name for the stars and you may stand a chance!

There will be cash runners-up prizes of P200 as well, also donated by Standard Chartered so come on, what have you got to lose?

Last week on the new show on Yarona FM we gave away P500 and we want to give away more. Forget Orange’s Tuesday Madness, we are mad all week! Just be one of the first five people to nominate a service star (or whatever we end up calling them) and we will give you merchandise vouchers donated by Barloworld. The first 10 stars to be nominated will also receive P150 donated by First National Bank.

And there’s more!

The time has come when we consumers, in conjunction with mature and confident companies need to start a revolution in customer service. The time for talking is over. The time for action has come.

How? Let’s start by not taking No for an answer. Let’s start voting with our feet, wallets and purses and simply stop shopping with suppliers that don’t respect us. Before you even venture out to buy things ask your friends, relatives, neighbours and family where they got good service and deals and follow their advice. Also start giving advice yourself. Tell them in return and tell us as well!

If we start this revolution personally and individually as well as a community things will change, they really will. To begin with we will force the development of a greater competitive spirit within and between companies. Whether some political theorists like it or not the simple truth is that free and aggressive competition benefits you and me, the consumer, most of all.

We at Consumer Watchdog want to make yet another contribution towards this process as well. As well as sticking up for customers we want to help companies to get there as well. So here’s an offer.

The first two companies that ask us will get an entirely free Customer Service Audit. This is the sort of thing the team at besbw do for a living. It’s one of our core business areas and we normally charge quite a lot of money to do it. But this will be entirely for free, so if you think your company may have room for improvement then let us know and we’ll see what can be done. Are ready for a dose of reality?

This week’s stars!

  • Calvin from MedRescue for a really quick response to a medical emergency
  • Lesego at Department of Taxes for being really helpful
  • Moji at Department of Student Placement and Welfare for going out of his way to ensure that a customer got what he needed. Apparently Moji even gave the caller his personal cellphone number so they could check for updates
  • Prince at Barclays Bank for being fantastic at getting things done

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