Crown Your Customer – post your favourites here

by Sunny Bindra on November 18, 2007 · 26 comments

in Books & Publications

I am delighted to announce the launch of my new book: CROWN YOUR CUSTOMER. CYC is a short polemic about the state of customer service in Kenya – and what to do about it. Click here to read an excerpt.

The book is available in Kenya from the end of October, and is published by STORYMOJA – an innovative new company that produces short, inexpensive books to fulfil its motto: “A book in every hand”.

To keep the zeal for good service alive, I would like feedback from readers. Please name ORGANISATIONS and INDIVIDUALS from whom you have received great, memorable customer service in recent months. Let’s applaud those who do it well! But let’s keep it honest, please – no plugging of businesses you’re involved with.

Related posts:

  1. Crown Your Customer
  2. Crown Your Customer – Signings, Saturday 3 November
  3. Books
  4. The customer service debate continues
  5. Customer service has gone to the dogs

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sunny Bindra October 24, 2007 at 9:34 pm

Let me start the ball rolling:

ORGANISATIONS:

Serena Hotels is the only Kenyan organisation that consistently delivers excellent service – in 19 establishments across 8 countries. Truly a Kenyan achievement to be proud of.

Hemingways Hotel, Watamu, is one of my favourite places. It has provided consistently good service since it was founded years ago, and really strives to make you feel at home and welcome. They take service very seriously and very personally, and it shows in their repeat visitors.

Regus Business Centre, Nairobi provides a world-class service environment, right here in Nairobi. All the staff are ever-smiling and solicitous, and provided me with a very friendly place in which to complete this book.

Aquatronics of Nairobi – a TV and satellite installations and video event-recording firm – is superbly professional. All client site work is monitored via 2-way radio, and staff are courteous and knowledgeable. This firm stands out as a rarity in a notoriously bad sector.

INDIVIDUALS:

Teresa Njoroge of Standard Chartered Bank is one of the ‘naturals’ I refer to in my book. Ever smiling, ever concerned, a pleasure to deal with.

Mama Gina of the City Park Hawker’s Market runs a vegetable stall. She needs no fancy training in customer service – her connection with her regular customers is instinctive and entirely natural.

Sapna Bhandary of Chowpaty, Diamond Plaza, Parklands is a manager with a difference. Immaculately polite, utterly professional – and will never get your order wrong. Courtesy at its best.

Monica Mwangi of Nation Media Group is personal assistant to some of the organisation’s most senior executives. But she is humble and friendly and unfailingly polite. Always great to work with.

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2 Gathoni Macharia October 24, 2007 at 10:05 pm

Enough is enough! I’ve reached the end of my tether. I have a litany of experiences of terrible customer service.
Good customer service is as rare as diamonds in Kenya.
I’ve always wondered what’s wrong with us to accept such lousy customer service from so called ‘established’ organisations.
I hope their CEOs will buy your book and take action to do something to restore good customer service. We urgently need it.

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3 Ssembonge October 25, 2007 at 2:37 pm

CS is one area that businesses need to embrace whole heartedly. Firms are begining to realise that it is an important pillar of the value chain.

I personally rate CS above marketing/advertising as it brings repeat business and lowers the cost of doing business. Firms have slowed down on the outsourcing of CSR after they realized it is denting their profits.

Congratulations on your new book.

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4 Mik October 26, 2007 at 10:22 am

I agree with SSEMBONGE. Not having studied business, I may have this wrong, but I’ve heard it is 6 times harder to convert a new customer than to retain an existing one. Good customer service is an obvious strategy for improving business.

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5 DEEPU October 28, 2007 at 6:44 am

Miss Yen of FOR YOU restaurant in Nairobi is one of those naturals you mention in your book. She is pleasant, warm and friendly. Above all she keeps children happy in a fairly formal restaurant atmosphere. JAVA coffee waiters and waitresses are quite good too – but inconsistent.

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6 Sunny Bindra October 29, 2007 at 9:59 am

Here’s a strange phenomenon. Those who have been fortunate enough to partake of Kenya’s beautiful tourist facilities will have noticed something interesting: we have some excellent customer-focused tour guides and drivers in this country. They are warm, friendly, knowledgeable and centred on the tourist in everything they do.

So why are we able to achieve this in an industry that focuses on foreigners, but we can almost never achieve great customer service in industries that serve our own people?

When it comes to local enterprises with local customers, we often become sullen and uninterested. Explain that!

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7 JOHN b. WACHIRA November 3, 2007 at 10:46 am

Mr. Njogu is a mechanic in Grogan operating in what is known as Jua Kali environment but is a firm believer in excellent customer care. He ocasiionally attends to my ailing Daewoo Cielo and always finds time to call me later in the night to confirm that I arrived safely. He is a great man!

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8 Anthony November 4, 2007 at 5:46 pm

Hello Sunny,
Have been sittting here for 10 minutes racking my brains for “any excellent customer care experienced recently.” Drawn a blank. It’s not been bad either just so-o-o ordinary everywhere. Business owners here care about little except how much cash u carry.
Peace.

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9 Sunny Bindra November 4, 2007 at 10:24 pm

Grace Nyundo of Serena Hotels is probably the best sales executive I have ever dealt with. Polite and professional to a fault, she will attend to your requirements with unusual patience and diligence. A credit to her profession – full marks.

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10 Alexander Eichener November 5, 2007 at 10:56 am

It is possible to recall instances of good customer service, but it was not easy.

The three best experiences were the Indian owner of an electric household appliances & electronics store in Nakuru, the old Parsi watchmaker on Moi Avenue (as featured in Awaaz), and a waiter in the Museum Cafe in Nairobi.

The three worst were the Sales and Marketing CEO of KTDA, the MD of Nyayo Tea Zones, and the Indian proprietress of a restaurant in Yaya Centre.

Alexander

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11 Sunny Bindra November 19, 2007 at 9:24 am

I was on a KLM flight in Europe recently, and was thoroughly impressed by the head flight attendant. This man was full of bouncing energy, full of smiles. He was extremely attentive, and seemed to run rather than walk at all times. A man completely in love with his work – and how it showed. He managed to singlehandedly lift the spirits of an entire plane-load of tired passengers. I watched the smiles and emphatic handshakes he got from people as they left. Just shows what a ‘natural’ can do for your business.

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12 observer November 19, 2007 at 3:42 pm

Kudos to all the great examples cited here. However, sometimes we learn more from failure than success.

I recently went to a high-class international restaurant in the Yaya Centre area and was shocked by the service. It took the staff 45 mins to take our initial order for drinks and failed to check on us for about 30 minutes after the meal. The place was staffed appropriately because when I went to look for a waiter I found about six of them standing together by a TV chatting. I was left wondering if the person that owned the place was really interested in making money. The staff seemed to do everything possible to ensure that no one would return to the restaurant. Why is the concept of customer satisfaction so alien to many establishments? Is it lack of competition?

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13 mainat November 19, 2007 at 3:56 pm

Mine is an everpresent one that I try to go back to every yr.
Outspan Hotel in Nyeri has got to be one of the best places to stay outside of Nai that I know of. Great food (nyamachoma has to be tasted to be believed), very warm fire place, great views of Mt Kenya and just very satisfying stay.

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14 Sunny Bindra November 19, 2007 at 6:01 pm

Observer:

It is precisely the fact that experiences like yours are so commonplace that made me write this book. It is “so stupid it almost can’t be happening”, as I say in the book. Lack of competition is certainly a factor. But another is our failure as customers to punish poor service. We could destroy bad businesses if we wanted to – all we have to do is stop buying. But we keep going back for more abuse…

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15 observer November 19, 2007 at 9:52 pm

Sunny,

is your book availabe for sale online?

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16 Sunny Bindra November 20, 2007 at 1:17 pm

Sadly, the book is not available online just yet. Storymoja is working on it, and it will probably happen next year. If you’re based overseas, the best thing is to get someone to buy for you and post – it only costs Shs 300, and is small and light.

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17 Sunny Bindra November 21, 2007 at 12:10 pm

Kenyan doctors are not known for their customer service. Many think they are God’s gift to humanity: rude, dismissive, uncaring, impatient and arrogant.

Two that I know stand out, though: Dr M Bhaiji (an eye specialist at M P Shah) and Dr A Shariff (a general physician at Forest Plaza). Both are a pleasure to go to (even at times of distress!). They are patient, take all the time they need, listen carefully, handle patients gently and are unfailingly courteous. A credit to their profession.

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18 Alexander Eichener November 25, 2007 at 6:10 pm

You won’t believe it, Sunny, where I found the following good resolution:

“Activity 8: Build customer loyalty by striving to provide service beyond customer expectation”



In the strategic plan of the Ministry of Sports !
Page 27

What is happening with Kenya when ministries use the word “service” and “customer” instead of Liidaah-Sheep ?!

Alexander

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19 Gathoni Macharia December 14, 2007 at 6:21 pm

Just when I thought that good customer service doesn’t exist in Kenya, I was extremely impressed by the EXCELLENT service received at Mombasa Serena in December. Nothing short of the service that royalty would receive. Care and attention to small details.
From staff at all levels-from the driver who picked me from the airport,to the ‘askaris’ to the General Manager.
Special mention and thanks to Jackie of Maisha Spa, Simon Macharia and the General Manager.
Keep it up! I’ll definitely be back.

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20 Sunny Bindra December 14, 2007 at 6:50 pm

Gathoni:

Msa Serena is also a personal favourite. I’ll convey your delight to the leadership team.

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21 Bashabe January 31, 2008 at 2:06 pm

Hullo Sunny,

How can i get the book iin Kampala? Reading the customer experiences in Kenya is worrying…how is it if its worse in Ug?

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22 Dr. David Nyabira June 16, 2008 at 10:35 am

Hi Sunny,

I’ve been reading your articles in the Sunday Nation, almost religiously, for a while now. I was therefore very excited to discover that you had written a book.

I bought the book and read it. It did not disappoint. My only grouse is that the book, even when new, seems ready to fall apart. I’ve been quoting the book so freely that a few of my colleagues have asked to thumb through my copy. I’m just not sure it will make it back to me without losing (God forbid) a few leaves.

Is there any chance Story Moja would consider some ‘plastic surgery’ on the book? Keep the good stuff coming, my brother.

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23 James G. Mbote June 20, 2008 at 11:23 am

Sunny,

I cannot thank you enough for your great lessons. I am an adent reader of your articles and I am even more deligheted that you have written a book. Kindly advise where I can buy your book. I am dying to read it. I work in the Diaspora and come home frequently. To me Emirates Airlines and it’s flight crews are super at customer service.

Qatar Airways is full of itself and will even charge you exorbitantly for 1 Kg over-load, their Nairobi Based Flight dispatchers and Ground workers including check-in services are rude and sometimes insulting!!! They lost me for good after flying for 1 Year in a row. It is strange that in their other offices outside Kenya, it is somehow different, something wrong with our people Sunny.

Sanjay Gandhi of Nutek Solutions, Hass Plaza Upperhill is one Super Director, he is welcoming, always gives advise and makes his customers/clients personal friends, he has uncompromised commitment to clients!

Keep up and I am dying to read the Book

Mbote James

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24 Mungai Kihanya June 20, 2013 at 2:05 pm

One day my wife called me to tell me that the bank was trying to reach me. So I called the bank to find out what the matter was. “It is about cheque no. xyz for sh68,000″

“Yeah, what about it?” I replied.

“Do you recognise it?”

“Yes, it is payable to QRS Insurance” I responded.

“Good; That’s the one. Now why didn’t you sign it?”

“What? It isn’t signed?”, I said in shock.

“No; it isn’t?

“So, shall we do about it?” I inquired.

“That’s simple; if you can come to the bank before 3pm, we can let you sign it and process the payment. Can you make it?”

“Yes. I’m actually not very far away….”

So I went to the bank and I signed the cheque. Then I asked the clerk how much they will charge for the inconvenience my carelessness had caused.

“Nothing. We can only charge a penalty if the customer doesn’t show up by 3pm and we have to return the cheque unpaid as per Clearing House rules”

Does your bank do this kind of thing?

Oh, by the way, my bank is I&M. Now go look at their financials…

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25 Mungai Kihanya June 20, 2013 at 2:12 pm

I think I&M was the first bank to start SMS account queries. They did it long before short-code numbers were introduced and before Safaricom started an SMS service! If you are old enough, you will recall that Kencell was the first to introduce SMS is Kenya.

I&M were using an ordinary Kencell 0733-xxxxxxx number to process balance queries, mini-statements etc.

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26 Mungai Kihanya June 20, 2013 at 2:15 pm

And that’s not all; I&M is the only bank I know that issues replacement cheque books in a matter of minutes from the moment the receive the re-order slip! Yes; they figured out a way of ordering the books in advance….and I think it works out cheaper than the normal method of waiting for customers to make requests then ordering.

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