“Quality performance starts with a positive attitude”- Jeffrey Gitomer

WHEN we were growing up, the only thing that was important to us on Christmas day was donning new clothes. It was the norm, it was tradition.

Christmas was not Christmas if one did not have new clothes which were bought specifically for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s. Festive season was the time when most urbanites would go to spend time, merry making with their relatives in their various rural homes. This was Zimbabwe, sleepy villages were awoken and growths points would be on fire with loud music, plenty of food and drinks.

The journey to the festive season would always begin in November. This has always been a significant month in the life of a working customer, because that is when they got their 13th cheque. Other things being normal, workers from both the public and private sector get rewarded for their good performance through bonuses.

Retailers were aware of this special month and would make sure that they have goods and services priced at the very best of prices in time for the customer to come and shop for goods and services that would sustain him or her until the first month of the following year. Massive price reductions on different goods and services was always the norm in November and retailers would make super profits. Almost every customer was ready to take bargain on the price galore and buy as much goods and service as possible.

This tradition of November sales, however, seem to be slowly fading away maybe due to the melting economic environment were the disposable income is becoming less by the day. The current economic environment has left the working customer with a huge dependent ratio, hence, spending much on festivities like before is becoming an unnecessary luxury.

This was our version of what is now commonly referred to as “Black Friday” shopping bonanza in Europe and America.

Black Friday has been an annual American shopping event but has lately found its way into other countries including South Africa. The term black was coined because in book-keeping and accounts, when a company posts profits they are recorded in black and losses are recorded in red, thus companies earn profits from holiday shoppers spends so much on discounted merchandise.

How the day started is shrouded in so many tales, with some claiming that Black Friday originated in America where they celebrate it as a famous weekend after Thanksgiving Day. Thus, since the late 19th century, Thanksgiving Day is regarded as the unofficial start of the holiday season

It is by far the biggest United States of America shopping event where retailers’ cut prices on their product and services, in order to increase their profits and kick start the festive season.

Black Friday has, however, seen a lot of businesses fighting on price points and trying to woo current customers and prospective customers to patronise their different brands. However, the real deal that makes other brands win customers for life is the provision of great customer service in the middle of a price rush on this particular day and any other shopping day. Every business will be competing based on pricing but the real competitive advantage that will tip the scale is always excellent customer service by an organisation.

Customers who receive excellent service such as being treated politely, meeting their needs at the right time, and the biggest of them all showing them warm reception like a whole heartedly smile will reap big returns for an organisation. These customers are highly likely to do repeat shopping with that organisation while bringing along other new customers.

Is it, therefore, easy for customers to find online or high street shops that will treat them like royalty even if it is Black Friday?

The store front or website landing are good indicators of the organisation’s customer service attitude. These should point to customer commitment in terms of their ability to meet customer needs and if there are any guarantee on the quality of the goods and services on offer.

Low prices on Black Friday should not be used as an excuse for bad customer service. Customers that visit an organisation for the first time even on Black Friday will always remember the first impression they got from the organisation’s internal customers that is its staff members.

They say the first cut is the deepest and customers will carry that first encounter and if it fails to meet their expectations, they will definitely take their business to your competitors.

Customer experience is also another major factor that savvy customers use to determine the value and support they will be get from an organisation. It is no doubt that customers that have experienced good service will patronise the organisation again because they believe in doing business with organisations that they already know.

Organisations usually get overwhelmed when there is a spike in demand for their services and customers usually feel it through bad customer service. It may be because the organisations will be ill prepared for the rise in demand or they would have underestimated the rise in demand for their goods or services.

Customers hate brands that fail to meet their expectations and organisations that treat them like slaves instead of kings. They usually lack good customer service so customers would rather stick to brands that they know, trust and have used before.

In order to have better online review or loyal customers that will vouch for your organisation on days like the Black Friday, the organisation must not only fight on pricing but must also train its staff on good customer service. Being able to contain the large influx of customers at a certain period and still be able to offer delightful customer service will always make the organisation a darling of many.

Cresencia Marjorie Chiremba, is a marketing enthusiast with a strong passion for customer service. For comments and suggestions, she can be reached on [email protected] or on 0712 979 461.