A few weeks ago I went to my usual barbershop to have a haircut and a shave. This in my opinion is one the best barbershops I have been to. However, on this particular day I walked into the shop and sat on the chair to have the shave. For some reason none of the barber men came to attend to me. One was relaxing outside, the other was playing music and the others should have been talking about something. Initially I thought they did not see me or I had become invisible so I asked one of the barber men who was attending to someone if they were cutting hair that day. He responded by calling out to one of them, “Guys kuli customer!” They seemed to ignore his shout. I waited for like another five minutes and walked out in protest and disgusted at the customer service really.
I have noticed that in Zambia there is a trend of lacklustre customer service whether it is in the barbershop or bus, the grocery store or restaurant. It appears that we really have to beg just to be served forgetting the fact that we are actually paying for the service. I have occasionally gone to a restaurant where the waiter takes their sweet time to get your order, the cashier in a grocery store is on the phone before finally punching your purchase and the bank teller is gossiping with the neighbour before attending to you. Now in my opinion this is absolutely pathetic in whatever language and it should not be accepted.
Initially I used to believe that maybe that is the best our customer service can do. However, in my few travels abroad the customer service I have received, Zambia embarrassingly pales in comparison. A customer is valued and when you are served you are not forced to leave a tip but you actually want to leave the tip. I have been to restaurants where the waiters are always close by to ensure that all your needs are catered to, they ask how the food is if you need anything else. I have been to lodges where the staff are friendly and are ever helpful with all your needs from calling the cab for you to ensuring that you have a fantastic stay. If I say the food was not well cooked they take if back and give me a fresh plate with tons of apologies as if their life depended on it.
I have come to the conclusion that the reason that the customer service is so pathetic is because we allow it. We do not demand it. If we are going to be paying for a service we ought to demand that we get the best service that is value for our money. Unless it is a free service then we cannot complain much. However, in a case where we are parting away with our hard earned cash it is important that we demand good if not excellent customer service. It has been too much of this notion that if you speak up then you are rude. I am now learning to forget the passiveness and demand quality customer service, it is time you demand it too. As a result of my protest walk out, when I returned to the barbershop, I must say I was served promptly.