Coffee, Tea Tasting Party Excites Fans

If you thought that only beer has the monopoly of social joy, you are mistaken. Just believe me, a cup of coffee, or tea, can attract people into a fruitful social gathering.

This was proven during the coffee and tea party, which was organised by Smiling Faces International at Vine Yard Café and Wine Bar, Forest Mall, on Saturday.

Despite the irritating early morning down pour, an impressive number of people of all social classes streamed at the venue to have a taste of the various brands of decaffeinated tea and coffee.

Further to the variety of coffee/tea brands, the fans were enormously surprised by the warm welcome with which they were received by the organizing partners, Ayub Kato and Pamela Nakityo. The fans, who were hoping to part with some money for their preferred brand of tea/coffee, could hardly believe when they learnt that they were actually at liberty to have a taste of all the brands, without paying a single coin!

The brands on display included among others Café Latte, Gourmet, Organo Gold, Black Coffee, Café Mocha, Red Tea, Green Tea and Hot Chocolate.

One of the fans, Safina Nakato, could hardly hide her excitement. “I wish the tea and coffee party becomes a weekly event. These brands of coffee have a smooth taste. Even without sugar, the awesome taste still prevails.”

Another fan, Lilia Kyobutungi marveled at the beautiful packaging of the coffee and tea brands. “The coffee is well packaged. The appearance of the packs invites you to open and taste the drink they carry even before you become thirsty.”

But the party did not end with coffee/tea tasting. The organisers, Kato and Nakityo also took their fans through an interactive session, during which they sensitized them about the social, health and nutritional benefits of taken decaffeinated coffee and tea, which they said contained Garnodama, a Chinese herb, which further to checking ailments like diabetes and high blood pressure, is also associated with longevity of life.

Uganda Travel Advisory

Kato’s journey from askari to top executive

The loss of his father right after sitting his Senior Six final examination was a big blow that drained him emotionally because of the attachment he had towards his old man. However, getting his first job as a security guard, gave Ayub Kato hope that he could start a new chapter in life.
At the time, opening the gate for guests at Sheraton Hotel Kampala, excited the youngster because he had found something to keep him busy and away from thought, never mind that he was not paid for the first six months. Read More

Is the performance of call centers in Uganda exceeding customer expectations?.

Many companies and Government entities in Uganda have come to embrace the call or contact center phenomenon. They have made huge investments, and also expanded the work force in their organizations to ensure customers’ needs are met.

Regrettably, rather than achieving customer satisfaction, the contact
centers have performed way below expectation. The reason for this is not far fetched; most companies invest heavily and set up these contact or call centers but forget the most important aspect- which is the PEOPLE. A lot companies, especially in Africa, have failed to embrace that going above and beyond for customers is not about the 41 inch monitoring screens, fancy IP phones but the training that goes to their human resource and other aided tools. Aided
tools may include Service Level agreements(SLA),key performance
indicators(KPI)and ownership of customer problems.

I will expand on ownership of customer problems by giving an example; a friend of mine had power issues with a power company. He called the call center toll free line 11 times and each
time he was given a different reference number. A couple of times, the call center agents claimed not to locate the previous reference number or simply said it was invalid. After reporting the issue so many times, no one followed up with the customer to see if the issue was really solved. This recurring act of failing to own the situation stems from the call center agents even to management of the establishment.

To have the issue resolved, a friend of his gave him a contact at the
Headquarters and this “good Samaritan” solved his issues in 15 minutes after 6 days of calling.

Why should any one call a relative or a friend to have an issue resolved when you have a fully functioning call center? No customer deserves to call any company 11 times before their problem can be sorted, if a company means business and cares about their customers. One call made from the
customer should be enough and the rest should be coming from the company giving updates on the problem resolution.

Companies need to outsource trainers who have massive customer service and call center experience that can really relate to the agents and the operation in general. Having a fancy call or contact center without agents that go above and beyond to own customer problems for quick resolution will always discredit the massive initial investment you make to wow your customers.

A customer focused organization stands the better chance of a sustainable establishment.

Ayub Kato
Customer Service and Call center consultant
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug
Smiling Faces International

Customer feedback or feed on?

In the 21st century business world, a lot of companies have become more interested in getting feedback from their clients/customers. Whether or not the feedback is being utilized is the question we need to ask ourselves.

In every service rendering establishment you visit – banking halls, hotel lobbies, business lounges or reception desks, you can’t fail to notice comment cards, comment box or an online link or email directing you to provide feedback about the service rendered.

For most companies, this is just a showcase to prove that they care. They never reach out to the customers, in-spite of the effort it took to provide to required feedback. These companies either don’t have the interest to follow up or just too busy to deliberate on the feedback. Also in some cases, the personnel in charge of collecting feedback shreds the bad comments and only submit the good ones to the decision makers. Some companies will even avoid reaching out to the customers to avoid any compensation on already sold goods or services, forgetting that “your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning- Bill Gates.

Feedback, whether bad or good from your clients, should be an exciting experience; that someone got the time to share his or her
experience after consuming your product or service is a big deal. It helps your company to rate your service and where you stand in the market. It also helps your company to plan trainings with the understanding of the capacity needed.

Every company should treasure feedback, good or bad from their clients, if they want to improve on their internal standards and ultimately increase their profit.

The writer is:

Ayub Kato

Customer service and Call centre consultant.
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug
Smiling faces International.

As we promote tourism in Uganda, what about the people behind its success?

A lot of emphasis has been placed on the exposure of Uganda as the number one tourist destination in Africa. The industry is increasingly bringing in millions and millions of dollars in revenue generation. We now have tourism ambassadors, many first class hotels have come on board, new tourist attractions are being exposed by the day not to forget Rolex that was recently discovered in Busoga.

I have written a number of articles on human resource management and customer service, but in this article, I will pay closer attention to the people behind the scene; the employees working directly in this sector.

In my cross-border journey of many years, I found out that as much as a lot of work goes into ensuring a seamless service delivery in our hotels, tourist sites, bar and restaurants, the personnel involved are not appreciated by their employers. Any chance with them reveals all their poor experiences such as- low pay and not on time, overtime and not compensated, poor meals, mistreatment, and the list is endless. Little wonder why some of these employees are reactive towards customers. A few five-star locations could be better than others but we have everyone on board.

Legally, is there anything that can be done by Government to address these alarming conditions? Are there policies we need to put in place to get a better treatment? We as Ugandans, is there anything we can do to improve the working conditions? Can employers provide a more tailored training to the service people?

On many of my trips, I see a lot of people paying off their bills with no tips left for the staff who served them. I am not suggesting you should tip anyone who has not given you the service you deserve, this should be solely based on customer satisfaction. And to the employees in the sector, you should not expect a tip if your service has not exceeded customer satisfaction.

As Government, citizens and employers, we should work towards putting smiles on the people that are directly employed in the tourism sector. I believe happy employees provide better service which will create more referrals to visit our tourists’ destinations. We need to create an inclusive development in the tourism sector, no one should be left out- government, staff, managers, CEOs, and the general populace.

The writer is:

Ayub Kato

Customer service and Call centre consultant.
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug
Smiling faces International.

Isn’t it weird that most individual businesses set the pricing of their products and services in-front of a customer?

Yes, this is true! and I am not talking about direct discounts, this is a common trend in Africa, without leaving out my lovely city- Kampala!

In Uganda, those that like shopping as a hobby or necessity, do so either in down-town Kampala or in the upscale shopping malls. These set of people must have experienced or witnessed the two scenarios I am about to analyze:

People do wonder why upscale malls hardly forget the prices of products- the reason is simple, they simply display prices on all products.

Go to the Game store or Nakumatte in Kampala and try to buy your favorite gadget, you will be shocked that the sales people in these aisles have their own prices different from the original prices the store owner has put on the products. They will sell to you, so long as you are willing to accept the new terms and conditions for any product you want to buy. It is just a network racketing that stems from the sales people to the cashiers, supervisors and managers, as long as the approval for any product will have to go through each of them and they will share in the gains. These same stores are struggling economically and claim not to know what the issue is..

The issue is that most employees are looking for survival- whatever will earn them extra bucks per day and they will take it at any cost, at the expense of the store owners.

we also have the downtown pricing. whether its in the Kasiita shops or on the streets, pricing is mainly done on the way you look, the car you drive,your dress sense, the Muzungu price and round stomachs.. If you don’t look like the above, they will likely ignore you. Downtown pricing is usually 4 times higher and you need to negotiate your way down however, you will still pay higher for the same product you will get less elsewhere..

-If you are a business owner downtown, you need to streamline your prices or you will continue to loose customers.

-If you are an upscale store owner be vigilant, someone is earning more than in you own store..

Do you still wonder why businesses are closing..? Do you still wonder why customers don’t return ? Do you only focus on today’s sales and forget about tomorrow. This is something to ponder on!

The writer is:
Ayub Kato
Customer service and Call center consultant
Smiling Faces International.
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug

Payments due or payment over due?

As a call contact centre consultant, among the many things that have bothered me in the course of my career, the most mind troubling one is how client servicing companies handle customers’ due or overdue payment/ fraud detection.

These companies are accessible at the time of purchase. They offer you the needed services, right product, the payment options and even offer to guide you through. The tides change when you do not get the right service for the cost incurred. This is not only in Uganda but through out Africa.

I am always confused whether it is the banks that process the payments or the telecom employees themselves but your money is stuck somewhere and you are not getting the required service.

It also happens that When making another payment by EFT or TCC by the client, the telecom will claim they don’t get the payment yet the customer’s account has been debited already. They will ask you to send them proof of payment. This time you have to go through your bank asking for a bank reference and the same bank already debited you. It then sounds like their systems and the people operating them are two straight lines that can never meet.

To worsen the situation, the manner in which they ask you to prove that you have paid is beyond believe:

1. They send you an alarming email or letter telling you how your lines are going to be disconnected

2.They go ahead and implement the disconnection process as you are still dealing with the bank to give you a reference.

3.If you call them, the call attendant shows no empathy and makes you feel like a debtor. Meanwhile, Some of these clients have been loyal customers of these telcoms and when you observe critically at their payment history, they have no payment over due, then why treat your clients like this?

Eventually, when you manage to get a proof and send to them, there is no apology for the delayed time and bad treatment, instead they will come up with another development- Oh i think moving forward, please indicate your invoice number or company name properly. Really??

As we get closer to 2017, let’s treat our customers with dignity, do not loose your customers because of your choice of words in demanding that due or overdue payment, before you disconnect any client’s service look at the payment history ,show empathy and be keen to know when you should expect payment.

Always have the right people in credit control offices who understand how important your clients are. This will improve your client relations for the future.

Happy Holidays and see you in 2017.

The writer is: Ayub Kato Customer service and Call centre Consultant.
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug

Do insurance companies take long to process insurance claims..?

The answer to this will depend on your individual experiences.

After dealing with a number of insurance companies in Uganda, I observed
that Ugandan insurance companies mostly display resistance in processing
client insurance claims, thereby making the claim process frustrating for
the clients to the point of wanting to drop it..

A number of insurance companies in the market place today pleasure in going
from office to office, selling their insurance policies. However, their
chasing power is not commensurate to the responsibility and promises
displayed in responding to claims. When you call to report a claim, the
call attendants exhibit shock like you have been donating to charity and
you were not supposed to make a claim, but later manage to send you the
claim forms. Also if you are a policy holder,I advise you study and fully
understand these policies before you commit to any. These documents are
complicated and only understood by the insurance companies themselves. You
will be surprised when you are filing for a claim and they let you know
that is not covered in the policy you have.

It may be true that these companies are embracing digitalization where all
insurance processes are done on the system besides the claim process which
is technically manual and most of the time when you receive the form, no
form of manual is sent for guidance.. The claim form when sent back may not
be processed until 3 or 4 weeks or even months if you are not persistent.
All this is just to frustrate your claim efforts.

If you were involved in a motor accident and your damaged car needs to be
fixed, you will need to find other means of transport as this claim process
takes for ever and poses an inconvenience to clients.

I have always wondered what causes this delay? Why can’t a claim be
processed within 2-3 days since most of these policies are paid 100% in
advance..

When most insurance companies ran out of business in the USA, it was due
to these unclear business transactions and hidden agendas of reaping off
clients.I am also aware that insurance companies are also hit by
fraudulent claims from the general public. I am not sure if they are also
aware that these fraudulent claims are engineered by their own staff
internally conniving with people outside the company to reap off the
companies. This is an internal problem, you need to vet your employees
extremely well. This will avoid delaying claims for good standing policy
holders.

Why don’t you advertise your claim processing times the way you advertise
your precious policies.?

The best way to serve your clients is to quickly help them in the time of
need not to frustrate them the more.
Process their claims fast enough and put a smile on their faces in these
unfortunate situations.

I will be back next week to discuss medical insurance and the authorized
clinics and hospitals.

The writer is:

Ayub Kato
Customer service and call center consultant.
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug

Is the performance of call centers in Uganda exceeding customer expectations?

Many companies and Government entities in Uganda have come to embrace the
call or contact center phenomenon. They have made huge investments, and
also expanded the work force in their organizations to ensure customers’
needs are met.

Regrettably, rather than achieving customer satisfaction, the contact
centers have performed way below expectation. The reason for this is not
far fetched; most companies invest
heavily and set up these contact or call centers but forget the most
important aspect- which is the PEOPLE. A lot companies, especially in
Africa, have failed to embrace that going above and beyond for customers
is not about the 41 inch monitoring screens, fancy IP phones but the
training that goes to their human resource and other aided tools. Aided
tools may include Service Level agreements(SLA),key performance
indicators(KPI)and ownership of customer problems.

I will expand on ownership of customer problems by giving an example; a
friend of mine had power issues with a power company. He called the call
center toll free line 11 times and each
time he was given a different reference number. A couple of times, the
call center agents claimed not to locate the previous reference number or
simply said it was invalid. After reporting the issue so many times, no
one followed up with the customer to see if the issue was really solved.
This recurring act of failing to own the situation stems from the call
center agents even to management of the establishment.

To have the issue resolved, a friend of his gave him a contact at the
Headquarters and this “good Samaritan” solved his issues in
15 minutes after 6 days of calling.

Why should any one call a relative or a friend to have an issue resolved
when you have a fully functioning call center? No customer deserves to
call any company 11 times before their problem can be sorted, if a company
means business and cares about their customers. One call made from the
customer should be enough and the rest should be coming from the company
giving updates on the problem resolution.

Companies need to outsource trainers who have massive customer service and
call center experience that can really relate to the agents and the
operation in general. Having a fancy call or contact center without agents
that go above and beyond to own customer problems for quick
resolution will always discredit the massive initial investment you make
to wow your customers.

A customer focused organization stands the better chance of a sustainable
establishment.

Ayub Kato
Customer Service and Call center consultant
akato@smilingfaces.co.ug
Smiling Faces International