The unintended consequences of the 3CIS case

In the private sector everybody knows that the customer is King! It is the customer that brings in the money to your business by purchasing your products or services. Indirectly, it is the customers that generate the jobs and your profit. Without customers, there is no income revenue, no employment, no profit, no taxes paid to the state, and consequently no business. That is why Customer Service is a serious matter in the private sector.

Studies show (Marketing 101 actually) that a happy customer will tell 2-3 other persons about your company’s products and/or services. A dissatisfied customer, on the other hand, will complain to at least 8 persons! That’s why the restaurant owner will never let you leave unsatisfied. As an owner of a private company, he knows that ‘mistakes’ happen, but he also knows that with the right ‘Customer Care policy’ the potential damage to his business can be turned into something positive. By offering you a free dessert or an apéritif, he may transform you from a Negative plus 8 to a Positive plus 2!

For the restaurant owner, it is a short-term cost (free dessert/aperitif), but with a long-term gain in mind (increasing influx of paying customers). The restaurant owner, as a private company operator with salaries to pay and family to feed, cannot afford losing customers as a result of poor customer service. He has responsibilities towards more people than himself, and he acts accordingly. If he doesn’t respect the customers, well then the market will punish him, and he will be out of business.

Now assume that one waitress in the restaurant does not do her job properly. She is rude to customers and views them more as cash milk cows. Her individual behaviour is causing customers to leave the restaurant unhappy, which causes direct headaches for other members of the restaurant team. Suddenly, the person responsible for promotion finds himself fighting against negative market perception of the restaurant. The usual sales techniques and incentives are inadequate to reverse the trend.  Long-term customers move away from the restaurant, while new customers are deterred to visit.

Now imagine that the restaurant is state-owned. Same staff, including the nasty waitress, who keeps being  hostile to customers. However, the new owner does not share the same pride in the restaurant and sense of responsibility as the previous owner. Rather, he encourages the waitress to ‘play with the menu’. So while the menu shows a beef steak with a sauce, in reality the customers get chicken file and no sauce. At times, she even over-charges customers, no matter that prices are set out in the menu. Again, the reaction from the consumers is negative, they move on. The restaurant is now, again, in risk of going bankrupt.

Luckily there is help at hand. An international Chef is called in to assess the situation in the restaurants, market and overall environment. The Chef then prepares the ‘ideal menu’, in line with the latest international gourmet cuisine trends and guidelines. He even teaches the waitress how to present the menu to the customers. Unfortunately, the international menu flops because the famous Chef did not taken into consideration the eating habits and food preferences of the local population.

So, who will eat at the restaurant now, with a rude waitress and a poorly composed menu? The restaurant market is large and fast moving in the neighbourhood. Customers have a genuine choice where to spend their money.

The restaurant owner could start a process of positive change by strengthening the capacity of individual workers (human resource development) and the capacity to performance as a team (management), by treating customers as special guests and not like milk-cows (good governance), and by not letting anybody leave the ‘restaurant’ un-happy! (customer-orientation)

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About Jakob Modéer

22 years of corporate and international investor experience as well as private sector development project management, consultancy in private sector policy and business advisory services, and direct consultancy to companies in South East Europe (and now a blogger on socio-economic issues)
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