Emotions Running High…

Nikita and I drove to work amidst the sound of chants & sirens, the smell of smoke and what might have been shots being fired.  You see, yesterday a group of angry residents of one of the local informal settlements decided to protest about the apparent lack of service delivery in the area.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but if you squat, you can’t expect to have services delivered because there is no damn infrastructure in place for said services to be delivered.

Look, it’s not that I am totally unfeeling towards the people – I too have things I am not happy about, but they are small in comparison to the conditions these people must live in daily.  I live in a fairly safe area, far removed from the blue lights, rubber bullets and tear gas, but I am not unaware, nor do I not comprehend that their issues need addressing.  I do feel though that if common sense is a flower that grows in your garden (which it clearly doesn’t with everyone), you would either wait for your state-funded-residence, as so many before you have, and you’d join the ranks of the rest of society that pays (regardless of the amount) for their services.

I am angry though.  Angry that they feel it is okay to damage public property with their tyre burning escapades and torching private dwellings.

Photos from Citizen.co.za and eNCA

Yes, you read right – these criminals razed other peoples’ homes to the ground because they’re not happy about the state of affairs at their own.  I wish I could find these cruel idiots and shake some sense into them, asking them how YOU would feel if someone did this to you, or someone you cared about?!  Where is the logic?  Just this morning we heard from a colleague that had to travel through the hot-zone that a minibus carrying innocent school children had a brick tossed through its window.  Sure, there is a visible police presence, but I think the laws of this country allow the criminals to rape, pillage and plunder while the police have to stand with their hands tied, trying to appear fierce and forceful.  I would even wager that down the line the community may take matters into their own hands because they are also starting to get gatvol.

During the drive, Nikita and I were talking mainly about the fact that we have a compassionate employer, one that empathises with the situation many of the staff find themselves in because of the barbaric acts taking place close to them.  I have a few friends, also employed by local business people and am totally disgusted how they are told “You will come to work or face disciplinary action” or “Fine, stay at home, but just remember, no work, no pay”.  Have these people no compassion whatsoever? Would a better approach to the situation not be “Yes, I know the situation is volatile, but let’s assess it in a few hours, maybe you can come in then?”

Their employees, people I know are often hardworking and sometimes exploited because they are desperate for the pittances they receive as remuneration are now in need, yet understanding from their employers is not forthcoming; these poor souls are not even heard out.  I find myself wondering how such business owners sleep at night.  Is their revenue for the day more important than the life of one of their employees?  In many instances, it appears so.

Again, yes, I get that this protest action is screwing with our already junk-status-economy but being a royal doos to your employees who actually want to be at work but can’t because they fear for their lives tells me you don’t have much wealth in the brain-, or compassion bank.  You should take a leaf out of Richard Branson’s book:

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Bad Service Does Cost You…Yes, YOU, the Service-Provider, NOT the Customer

I have a number of friends that work in jobs related to the provision of services, so I feel that I can write this blog with a reasonable sense of certainty.

Often my friends will complain about a rude customer, an I-can’t-fill-this-form-out-myself-because-I’m-just-too-lazy-customer or a general-pain-in-the-butt-customer. With that said, I am sure they aren’t exaggerating either. I have actually been in a queue at a friend’s workplace when I have witness such behaviour first-hand. But, now I wish to toss the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons…

What happens when a customer is desperate to make use of the service that your company is rendering, only to be given lip? Just this morning, Mom had to deal with such a scenario…

Our electricity is up the pole – on and off since just before the 07:00 news. This meant a shit start to the day for both of us. I had to do my make-up for work in the shadowed bathroom – the result…my face looks like it was stuck in Cuba for a month because I grabbed the wrong foundation out of the bag! Next, I couldn’t get my car out of the garage, because that too works with electricity. Eventually after cursing, screaming, kicking and shouting I managed to get the door’s manual release to work and was on my way to work, only to arrive about 30 minutes late. Anyway, that is the dark situation in a nutshell.

I eventually convinced Mom to phone the most well-known electrical company in our town (there is only one other…). After explaining to the woman answering the phone what the problem is, Mom is informed that the electrician will be at the house at about 15:30. Here I am rolling my eyes thinking, if this man has to work on the box outside the house, 15:30 is going to be much too late because the storm clouds are even darker than the bathroom was this morning¸ but I say nothing. The receptionist then proceeds to ask how the bill will be settled. A fair question, I don’t deny. Mom politely explained to her that she herself is a not-so-tech-savvy pensioner, so I would do an internet transfer as soon as I get home tonight. It was this response that not only made Mom angry, but me too, when she phoned me to tell me, “Well, what time exactly does your daughter get home? We only work ‘til five. We can’t wait until she gets home one day to do the payment.” Needless to say, they are not going to be coming round at 15:30, nor will we be recommending them to anyone else.  So now we will use the other company…they are well aware of their competitor’s good reputation, so I guarantee they will put in more effort to offer a better service.  The other company’s loss will no doubt be their gain.

In today’s day and age, where money is tight and often, business is scarce, surely it is better to be polite to a potential customer than to cost your company current business now and referral business in the future. So too all my friends and those others of you in the service industry, next time you have a difficult customer, rather smile politely and conduct the transaction professionally. You need your customers to keep coming back, to maintain your company’s income, and so too, your jobs.