comments: Complacency always hurts customer loyalty

Of late, the biggest topic on the business scene seems to be the impending arrival of Telecom Giant, Bharti Airtel. As usual, there is a cloud of excitement as many anticipate Airtel’s entry to result in a price war that will see many enjoying low call tariffs.

Of late, the biggest topic on the business scene seems to be the impending arrival of Telecom Giant, Bharti Airtel. As usual, there is a cloud of excitement as many anticipate Airtel’s entry to result in a price war that will see many enjoying low call tariffs.

This feeling is not surprising. As they say, first impressions last and so Airtel will try to impress as they make their way into the Rwandan market.

They are already operating in other East African countries and will probably rely on their economies of scale to put pressure on MTN and Tigo.

The practice of starting off with great offers and wonderful service is common on the business scene and we can even say the same of human beings when it comes to the dating game.

All of it is aimed at winning one’s heart. The tough bit is holding onto what you have won. How do you keep the flame burning after the initial sparkle?

That question is of course for the people who will earn huge salaries working for these companies. They need to keep coming with ways of retaining and attracting new customers.  Some of them will even have targets and once they fall short they will be duly replaced. That is how it is.

The problem always arises when those in charge of keeping us hooked to a company’s service or product rest on their laurels and let everything go to the dogs. 

They get the false sense that they have the required number of customers to keep money flowing to their accounts and they relax.

In some cases, these same people get the sense that their customers have not option but to be their customers so no more need to please or treat them nice.

Just like it happens when one feels there is no more point in being nice to his spouse. No more surprises or special treats to renew the love.

Much as the customers may be suffering silently, they are only waiting for the next option before they jump ship. Airtel’s arrival best exemplifies this situation.

Long before it became what it is now, there was a company named Celtel Uganda. It was the first telecom company and charged the highest rates for anything, be it phones or airtime.

The customers had no option but once the options came up in form of MTN Uganda and Uganda Telecom, Celtel lost its clients and to this day as Airtel (Uganda) it has never regained its supremacy in the market.

Now that the lessons have been learnt, I am sure they will do their best not to give in to unnecessary complacency.

Another clear example of complacency is in the transport sector. Anyone remember when Jaguar had functioning DVD systems, offered sodas and cakes?

How about when Kampala Coach had three flat screen DVD sets in each bus? Oh there was also a time when Akamba stopped at Mbarara, Uganda to offer its clients a heavy breakfast. Well it is all a long time ago now.

Of late it seems the bus companies are caring less about their clients. What they forget is that this complacency will cost them the loyalty of their customers once something new comes up. Don’t say I didn’t tell you.

ssenyonga@gmail.com