Wednesday, June 21, 2017

How my mum sustains Customer Experience (CX)?

Snapshot of my mum's charcoal table
For as long as I can remember, my mother's charcoal business has helped in seeing my siblings and me, through school. It's a family business we are proud of. I have wondered how she's sustained her customers over the years. Here are some strategies she's applied to retain and grow her customer base, while ensuring they are satisfied with the product and her services:

Make sure the product is always available
One evening, I sold the last charcoal on the table, and wondered when my mum would be able to travel to Mamfe or any of the charcoal-producing towns in Ghana to buy more sacks. The following day, she went to the Tema Kwasiadjoaso and returned with five sacks of charcoal. She had actually gone for it so she sells it for the market lady. I was disappointed and didn't understand why she did that, more so when I realised she didn't make any profit on them. She noticed my displeasure and explained that the move was meant to retain her customers. Imagine what will happen when they come to buy charcoal and she has none -- she'll lose them to her competition. She jokingly asked, "If I lose them, and I am finally able to travel and buy my own stock, would I go round door-to-door or with a gong and ask my customers to come buy charcoal from me?"

Respect and Cherish your customers
Every morning, I observed my mother interact with customers while she packs the charcoal on her table. A couple of these customers were very punctual as they came to our home earlier than my mother began her work. I observed how they shared family issues and the interest my mother took in their lives, sharing in their joys and sorrows. The relationships grew from business to personal ones. This was good for business as referrals came in. On our part as her children and 'employees', we were made to understand what a smile can do to enhance the customer experience. We learnt to be fair but firm with the customers as some took our business for granted and may buy on credit and never pay. There were times some customers came to buy the charcoal in very bad moods. Our calm and respectful nature was the remedy.

Give value
Some customers usually came to buy the charcoal with nothing to carry them in. I realised my mum started keeping the polythene bags she got from vendors at the market whenever she buys groceries for our home. These polythene bags were used to serve her customers. She made sure nothing got wasted. There were roasted plantain sellers who loved the smaller sized charcoal, and there were chop bar operators who loved the bigger one. For some of the customers who liked to buy a sack from time to time, my mother showed them how to tell good charcoal from bad ones (even when they were in a sack).

Request for and act on feedback
My mum encourages feedback from her customers with respect to the charcoal they've bought or how her 'employees' relate to them. This informed her decisions on changing a particular supplier, or scolding us for being disrespectful and unprofessional.

I decided to share this, as I reflect on how some organisations pride themselves with qualifications of their staff, but fail to perform such little acts to enhance the customer experience they so desire to achieve.

Book sense no be sense o.

Friday, June 9, 2017

My bank account is anemic, and so what?

I have always struggled when it comes to savings. I am a financial illiterate. I. Need. Help. I am at a point where I live from hand-to-jaw – not even close to hand-to-mouth.  :-smile

Anyway, whenever I find myself in dire need of money to survive, God comes through – through fellow human beings. Good people exist in this wicked world. Believe that.

This morning I woke up with no with electricity. The power units had run out. The 10% reserved on the card is what is powering my laptop as I type this. Well, this afternoon I joined a number of my Club members to visit an ailing member. After the visit I decided to go eat fufu and come home to rest. After all I won’t eat in the evening. Just when I got to the restaurant, the member who owns the place ensured I ate to my fill, without paying. She has no idea of my situation.

Good people.

After thanking her, I boarded a taxi and handed GHS5 to the driver. There was a gentleman by me who also handed GH5 to the driver. The driver then explained he had no change for both of us. We we told him to get some when he gets to town and we alight. This other gentleman implored the driver to take GHS2 for both of us instead of the GHS3.2 for two passengers. The driver saisd no, so I brought out GHp50 and handed it over to the driver to add to my GHS5 so he gives me the GHS3 he had in his hand. I will alight first in any case. He refused. I got to my destination and the gentleman took my GHp50 and asked me to keep my GHS5. He will pay for me.

Good people.

You see, I am not saying it is alright to have an anaemic account. Get help. Get financial literacy training. I. Need. Help. I need to plan my finances. There are good people, but you can also be one. Don’t always be at the receiving end. Be a giver too. Be good people.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

What is design thinking?

My sketchnote of the keynote address at #DTGC2017
Design thinking to me is a methodical way of critically understanding a problem, and crafting creative solutions to them. It relies more on expressing empathy with your clients, understanding the root of their need/problem, and prescribing innovative and sustainable solutions to them.

At yesterday's Design Thinking Conference in Accra, organised by the Ashesi Design Lab and the Ghana Design Network, participants were introduced to the concept of design thinking and the steps involved in harnessing its simple but effective ideals in solving problems. 
After the introduction, participants were then put into four groups: service design, product design, policy design, and program design. In teams of 5 - 8 people, participants were to design a solution to solve the plastic waste problem Accra faces.

Chart used by my team for our pitch.

My team, A-Z Recyclers (from the service design group), proposed a behavioural change as the solution to the problem. This change would be ensured by distributing dustbins to homes, offices, and at vantage points across the city to be used solely for the collection of plastics. 
These would then be collected by employed individuals/volunteers. Consumers are given incentives (bags/cartons of water, recycled plastic products).
We collect the plastics, recycle them into pellets, and sell them to makers of plastic products such as @trashybags.

My friend Julius (@juliussap) recorded this video of the pitch.