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Customer Service with a Pizzazz! PDF Print E-mail

(A case study of DELTA)
By Shafiq Taibjee
I have always been in constant search for companies and staff who can deliver service with a pizzazz and I think I may have found one such person that is an inspiration and full of positivity when it comes to work.

On the 23rd July 2016 being a Saturday morning I start my car and realized the battery is dead. Called up several people to find out the cost and get it fixed so that I could go about my work.

Fortunately, I happen to receive an offer via whatsaap on a deal that DELTA was offering on its batteries. I called the number and a gentleman by the name of Kailesh Jobanputra picked up the phone and with a much exited hello which is quite refreshing in these days of bored employees. Kailesh happened I later found out to be the Director.

I told him of the offer I read on whatsapp and he reconfirmed that is correct. I sent him my battery requirements and he said he will reconfirm the availability and call me back in ten minutes. Knowing the customer service in many places in Kenya I was not really expecting him to call back but to my pleasant surprise he did and would send a rider to fix the battery at no extra cost! However, due to the challenges of the traffic in Nairobi the rider unfortunately could not make it. I was disappointed.

The crux of real leadership is not to blame the circumstances and your junior staff but show in reality how it must work. The real challenge for any leader is to have dedicated people. Organizations must realize that to stay ahead, they must retain qualified, inventive, smart-working, and dedicated employees.

Kailesh showed his dedication as a Director and his passion to deliver customer service when he personally called to deliver and fix my car battery on a Sunday. This is impressive and I am definitely going to be a loyal customer of DELTA.

What are the learning’s for this experience? For any leader to quote Vala Afshar a good leader must teach:

  1. urgency to a customer
  2. critical thinking
  3. creativity
  4. empathy
  5. commitment
  6. loyalty
  7. mindfulness

Good leaders teach the hard stuff.

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Is brand value the new frontier to marketing and sales PDF Print E-mail

By Shafiq Taibjee (www.taibjeeconsultants.com)

The most obvious answer to that is …Absolutely!

What has brand got to do with selling insurance one may ask?

For this we must understand what in the first place the meaning of brand is:

“A brand is a unique design, sign, symbol, words, or a combination of these, employed in creating an image that identifies a product and differentiates it from its competitors. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction in the consumer's mind. Thus brands help harried consumers in crowded and complex marketplace, by standing for certain benefits and value. Legal name for a brand is trademark and, when it identifies or represents a firm, it is called a brand name.” –Business Dictionary

In Kenya brand equity and what the value of a brand is and what it stands for is at a very adolescent stage. It’s only a few companies that have realized the value of what their trademarks. When one looks at the telecom sector only one company stands out for its innovation of products and services it offers. This kind of a powerful corporate brand affects the entire chain of people and institution associated from the staff, customers, and stakeholders including competitors. The brand is how you offer services the quality and the final product the company delivers.    

Every product or service that comes to the market is bound to get copied, however what cannot be copied is the company’s brand, culture and the customer service it offers.

In the current insurance industry in Kenya what will differentiate each company? Most offer the same products, packaged differently. Branding becomes crucial especially for the service sectors like lawyers, architects, consultants where no tangible goods are transacted and the only thing to sell basically boils down to the brand.

How does a company build a strong brand?

  • Have great products and services! No amount of marketing jingoism is going to convince a customer if the product is not right.    
  • Each employee who is managing the product is well qualified and trained to do the job. Many companies do not take training seriously and it always an option whether to train or not.
  • Any promotion, functions or advertisements that are strategic are well versed and are well synchronized.
  • Make sure all strategic events define a specific category and competitive advantage. Brand strength could be the difference between your ability to take needed price increases and bankruptcy.   It can impact your ability to grow share, increase profitability and gain customer loyalty.
  • The most important differentiation will be the ultimate customer service. Most companies in Kenya train as a lip service and show it on their websites thinking this will immediately change how the customers think of them. Customer service is a long term training which changes the culture of the entire organization to be customer centric. This investment is most crucial. To quote Richard Branson “Train people well enough so that they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”  As a consultant the most common question is what if I train and my staff and they leave? My answer would be what if you don’t train and they don’t leave? You would be stuck with an unskilled person adding no further input or value to your organization!

What are the local brands worth?

  • According to the BrandFinance® Kenyan Top 40 (2011 survey) is the most comprehensive brand value league table of Kenyan brands, Safaricom is the most valuable brand in Kenya (Ksh 25.3bn), with East African Breweries coming in second place (Ksh 21.9bn)
  • Financial Services brands dominate the table accounting for 12 out of the 40 brands
  • Equity Bank (AAA+) and Kenya Commercial Bank (AAA) are the only brands in the table to achieve a AAA brand rating.

Mr Jawad Jaffer the MD of Brand Finance says “In our study we have determined that 13% of the Top 40’s enterprise value is accounted for by brand value. The questioned to be asked is ‘How can Kenyan companies leverage the true value of their brands in order to attain a stronger footing?’

Top ten companies listed below:

Source: Brand finance

It is important to note that during this survey not even one insurance company has featured in the top 10.
Just the way we have companies that are branded there was a survey that was done that also looks at the “NATION” branding. The top ten countries to feature were:

Brand Value Rank 2014

Brand Value Rank 2013

Nation Brand

Total Nation Brand Value 2014 ($bn)

Brand Value Change ($bn)

Brand Value Change (%)

Total Nation Brand Value 2013 ($bn)

Brand Strength Rating 2014

Brand Strength Rating 2013

1

1

US

19,261

1,271

7%

17,990

AA+

AA

2

2

China

6,352

242

4%

6,109

AA-

AA-

3

3

Germany

4,357

355

9%

4,002

AA+

AA

4

4

UK

2,833

478

20%

2,354

AA

AA

5

5

Japan

2,458

195

9%

2,263

AA-

AA-

6

7

Canada

2,212

349

19%

1,863

AA-

AA

7

6

France

2,076

139

7%

1,938

AA-

AA-

8

9

India

1,621

255

19%

1,366

A+

A+

9

10

Australia

1,555

298

24%

1,257

AA

AA

10

8

Brazil

1,403

-75

-5%

1,478

A

A+

Source: Brand Finance   

Nation branding is crucial as it helps attract students to universities, credibility to the businesses operating in the country and so on.

How do customers purchase products or services?

Whenever customers shop in these days of the internet and easy accessibility to product/service information and reviews are online and most of the purchases are purchased through emotional attachment to a brand. Customers or consumers will put their money in business they feel emotionally connected ignoring or opposing others that provide no value to them.

In Kenya we have consumers who are very price sensitive too and brand loyalty will not necessarily lead to the purchase. For this very reason many companies in order to remain relevant have come up with smaller sizing of their products or cheaper services less in terms of packages they offer. This can be smaller data bundles to smaller bottles of soft drinks or smaller portions of the oils or fats available in the market.

According to Business Daily article of 29th July 2011” Analysts say innovation and consistency in product quality can allow companies with stronger brands to enjoy higher sales and margins compared to rivals offering weaker brands, a move that is critical in growing profits in the competitive marketplace.”

“Strong brands are able to behave like luxury brands where the higher the price of the brand, the more it is desired. Companies with strong brand values are more profitable and their stocks are highly valued due to the high returns they give to shareholders.”

Can a personal brand become stronger than the company brand?

In Kenya and many other places too where we have many family run businesses often a person becomes a representative of a company more than the company itself. For example what Bill Gates is to Microsoft or Steve Jobs was to Apple.

A classic example is Michael Jordan a famous American basketball player where he is probably worth more than the team he played for. This man officially as per Forbes Magazine is worth over US$ 1 billion! Just the Nike endorsement earns him US$ 1 million.

According to Forbes Magazine: “Take the launch of the retro Air Jordan XI “Legend Blue” . It sold out on Nike’s website in three hours. Other retailers also quickly emptied their supply. At an average price of $180, according to SportScanInfo, Nike sold more than $80 million of the “Legend Blue” within its first week with most of the sales on the first day. This is one style over one week. For perspective, Adidas,

Under Armour, Reebok and every other non-Nike/Jordan brand sold a cumulative total of $190 million for all its styles over the 52 weeks of 2014. That is the power of Jordan.”    

We also have our local brand icons. The million shilling question is how much are they worth?  

In conclusion: branding whether personal, national or personal is very crucial and it can be the do or die for business in this modern day. Social media is largely responsible for the influence and monitors online of branding and consumer choices both emotionally and price wise. What used to be a complaint addressed to one organization to one person, now with social media millions read the complaint in less than a minute.

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Employees hold key to innovation, tap their creative juices PDF Print E-mail

Leaders should work to build workplace teams that listen to all members’ ideas. Photo/Fotosearch.com

Innovation would, in the context of this article, mean better processes, services, ideas or products that are accepted.

The list is not exhaustive. It would also mean value addition to services and products, backed by improved technological solutions.

But why and for whom are we being innovative? The end consumer of all the innovations is always the customer. In many world class companies across Kenya, employees drive these changes.

To remain competitive and ahead of the game one must be able to retain champions or star workers and be able to treat them differently to take advantage of their innovative capabilities.

To ensure this happens there must be investment in technology which means doing things differently and retraining employees for new processes.

This is an interesting concept because from my experience working for various top companies, I discovered that most of them employed new technology to speed up and mechanise old processes instead of designing new ones.

This causes a lot of resistance because they are disturbing the comfort zone of what the employees have been used to for years.Comments ()

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How companies can influence employees’ innovative behaviour PDF Print E-mail

A company must be able to retain champions or star employees and treat them differently to take advantage of their innovative capabilities.

Let us start by understanding what innovation is.

Innovation means better processes, services, ideas or products. It could also mean value addition to existing services, products, backed by improved technological solutions.

The next question is why and for whom are we being innovative? The consumer is always the beneficiary of innovation.

In many world class companies, employees are now viewed from a different perspective in order for firms to remain ahead of the game.

A company must be able to retain champions or star employees and treat them differently to take advantage of their innovative capabilities.

To ensure this happens, they must invest in technology which means retraining employees in new processes.

New technologies bring a lot of resistance because you are disturbing the comfort zone of many employees.

One must, therefore, consult the employees especially those who deal with customers directly and make them embrace the changes and then stick to these new changes that brings innovation.Comments ()

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Kenya is leading in promoting intellectual property rights in the region PDF Print E-mail

 By Agencies

Kenya has recognized the role intellectual property (IP) plays in its technological, industrial, cultural, social and economic development.

The government has pledged to continue to devote resources and effort towards putting in place, and where it exists, improving systems for effective and efficient management of IP and IPRs within its territory for enhancement of national growth.

Kenya has established policy, legal and institutional frameworks necessary for the promotion, protection, and utilization of all main aspects of IP within its territory.Comments ()

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