Friday 8 June 2007

Party time!

Last week we had the night of the year. On Thursday 31st May the service stars we had celebrated over the previous year in this column and on the radio all came to the Gaborone International Conference Centre to help us celebrate our Second Birthday Party.

In fact we had 180 service stars there along with their managers, all sorts of business and government leaders and our extra special guests The President and the Minister of Finance.

Again the party was VERY generously sponsored by Standard Chartered Bank.

Go to our web site and take a look at the pictures!

Last year we held a very similar party where we celebrated a mere 130 service stars. After the party someone approached me and semi-jokingly said “Yeah, I bet they’re all Zimbabwean”. The bad news was I simply didn’t know. We hadn’t asked. So this year we determined not to make the same mistake. This year we asked.

To begin with 54% of the service stars were women. As David Cutting, the new MD of Standard Chartered Bank said, “That’s no surprise” and I think I agree with him. It’s probably worthy of a PhD thesis but it does seem to be the case that women are just slightly better at customer care than men. Maybe it’s to do with traditionally being slightly more caring but it’s probably more to do with not having a large dose of masculine pride. Men just don’t seem to be as able to back down and apologise when necessary.

Then there was their average age of only 32. Service stars seem to be young. Despite what some of us more mature types often say about the younger generation it seems that in fact they are a hard-working, dedicated bunch. Perhaps we oldies should start being more generous?

So the big question. Were they all Zimbabwean?


In fact 10 different nationalities were represented. There was an American, a Brit, a Yugoslav, an Indian, a Mauritian, a Swede and even a Singaporean. There were 5 South Africans. And yes, there were Zimbabweans. Seven of them.

9 out of 10 were Motswana. So all those people who think Batswana can’t do customer service should, with the full blessing of Consumer Watchdog, stick that statistic somewhere where it hurts!

Clearly it’s unfair to single out any of these service stars for particular mention but we couldn’t help it. Certain stars just stood out and we believed they needed to celebrated for being extraordinary.

Everyone who deals with BotswanaPost has a huge affection for Moses Aaron. As their receptionist and telephonist he is the face and voice of BotswanaPost. His dedication, his courtesy and his smile are all things all service providers should emulate.

Victor Chivazera from Barclays Bank was celebrated on various occasions and was described by one reader as “Every customer’s dream. He is courteous, competent, consistent and extremely helpful.”

Thuso Seitei from Botswana Life was nominated to Consumer Watchdog for service above and beyond the call of duty and for dealing with the aftermath of a bereavement with sympathy, professionalism and promptness.

Calvin Mothibedi from Shell Kudu Filling Station was celebrated many times this year as well as in our first year. His energy and obvious commitment to treating customers with respect and his sense of fun are an example to all service providers.

Candy Kuswani from Ola Milky Lane at Game City was nominated to Consumer Watchdog more times than we can remember both this year and last year. Her incredible cheerfulness, her warmth and the amazing way she treats customers shine through.

Millicent Qampi from Princess Marina Hospital was nominated to Consumer Watchdog for taking control of Emergency Room at the Princess Marina on an extremely busy day. She strode into the Emergency Room, took charge, explained how things worked to everyone in both Setswana and English and left everyone feeling calm, confident and content.

On 22nd January 2007 Air Botswana flight BP201 was hijacked while in flight from Gaborone to Johannesburg by an assailant who threatened to blow up the plane. Although this turned out to be an exaggeration this can only have been a deeply traumatic experience for the passengers but particularly for the crew of the flight, Captain Hastings Mulenga, Senior First Officer Roy Champane, Onthatile Itsing and Puleng Johnson. According to official reports the pilots and the crew “acted with the highest degree of professionalism and courage. They never faulted in their resolve to bring the incident to conclusion with minimum risk to all”. We believe that they are a tribute to the airline and to the nation and deserve the highest levels of celebration.

Finally, a point for all the service stars who came to the party. It wasn’t Consumer Watchdog that got you celebrated by The President and the nation. It wasn’t Standard Chartered Bank. It wasn’t Mmegi or Yarona FM.

It was you. You all did it yourselves. You did it by BEING yourselves. You did it by demonstrating to your customers that you are friendly, honest, helpful and that you genuinely want them to benefit from doing business with you. Whether you sell them ice cream, life insurance, banking products, postal services, petrol, healthcare or whether you fly them in safety doesn’t matter. You all demonstrated that it’s HOW you do it that matters most.

You are ALL stars and we are ALL very proud of you.

This week’s stars!

  • The President, Minister Gaolathe and all the other VIPS for being there to help us recognise that it CAN be done, it IS being done and it’s getting better every day.
  • Everyone at Standard Chartered Bank for again very generously sponsoring the party but particularly David, Pierre, Basadi and Mpho.
  • Our partners at Mmegi, The Voice, YaronaFM and Minchin & Kelly for all your support over the last couple of years, even when certain companies did threaten to sue us. Funny than none of them ever did though!
  • All the service stars for being exactly who they are.

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