Acholi, Lets Learn Basic Customer Service To Grow Our Businesses And Careers

The writer, Caroline A. Ocheng










Northern Uganda offers opportunities that we can all harness to better ourselves, our families, communities and the region.  But with opportunities comes competition. More Indians, South Sudanese, Chinese, other nationals, as well as Ugandans from other parts of the country are, for example, setting shop in Gulu.

I am an advocate for diversity because it brings new perspective and while I feel compelled to buy a service or product from lamera or omera-this is not sustainable in the long run. I believe we are getting to a point where people want a good service regardless. Speaking the same language won’t sustain us anymore. It is this belief that compels me to share three simple tricks that I believe we young people can slowly adopt for sustainable careers whether in employment or business-small or big.

First I share two scenarios from my recent encounter in northern Uganda. I needed an architectural drawing for a small project. A friend helped me identify a potential architect. At our first meeting with the architecture, he looked like he had been drinking alcohol–his lips were chipped and he was smelling alcohol. He also forgot his tools (although we had agreed on the plan the day before).  Additionally, he insisted that I pay him a down payment- which is okay except he couldn’t get me a receipt. How would I trust him with my money if he couldn’t trust me enough to get the work done before me paying him?

Two days later, there was no drawing but excuses.  Two days became one week.  Before he finished the work, he called asking for more money. After completing the work, he asked for a tip (It is worth noting that his work was very well done). To the best of my knowledge though it is not only the end-product but the process including how long it took to get the work done that attracts tips -except of course where corruption is at work.

Prior to that, a friend and I needed a logo designed. We went to the length of sharing our logo ideas and literally drawing them on paper for the chosen graphics designer. A week later, a logo was delivered which was totally different from the ideas-this wasn’t a problem. The problem was the sample was delivered after a lot of chasing and empty promises. We agreed on changes, after following up and waiting in vain, we had to find a new designer.

In both scenarios, the subjects were young men. Young men good at their jobs with promising talent, talent I believe, can take one places with a little panel beating here and there. Below some customer service tips I hope will help one or two people.

Look at the bigger picture

Every time you meet someone, think about all the people that that person knows. This network of relations holds potential opportunities. Every time you have an opportunity, think of the possibility that the small opportunity may in fact lead to other opportunities. If it doesn’t lead to another opportunity it may earn you a friend or a good referral.  In the two scenarios above, surely an architectural drawing has the potential to birth more work and so does the design of a logo. Only getting the work done doesn’t guarantee you more work, it is how you do the work, how you make your client feel and the work itself that could potentially generate more work and thus business for you.

Do not over promise and not deliver

When we contacted the graphics designer with a request to have a logo designed, he said he would do the work that night-which was impressive. We agreed that a day or two seemed more reasonable. Two days later, a week later there was no work. It is okay to show eagerness but be realistic in your promises. Include a day or two for circumstances that maybe beyond your control; e.g. electricity cuts for work that is dependent on electricity, family or personal emergencies etc. An extra day maybe all you need to save your reputation.

Take the initiative-update the customer

You have promised to get the work done in two days or so.  However, for one reason or another you are not able to meet the agreed deadline. Delays do sometimes happen for reasons beyond our control-this is understandable but how you respond and treat your client when delays occur is the difference.  A one minute call or WhatsApp message to say due to power cuts you will not meet the target will save the day and earn you trust. Take the initiative don’t wait for the customer to start looking for you or even switch off your phone to avoid the customer. From my experience honesty wins you customer trust and this is critical for referrals and potentially more opportunities.

Bringing it all together

Technical skills are vital but it is the other skills that will get our young people ahead of the competition. A good job with good customer service will sometimes guarantee you another job, a friend or a good advertisement whether it is word of mouth referral or other forms of review. Today referrals are so easy to get with so many people using social media and WhatsApp. The good news is these tips are not rocket science, you don’t need to go to marketing or business school to learn them. You can start today and watch them do magic for your business or career.

The writer is a blogger