Southern Region Service Excellence Awards bigger, better

The Southern Region Service Excellence Awards have continued to grow in leaps and bounds and this year’s edition was testimony that customer service in the southern region business community is poised for significant improvement.

The Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe (CCAZ) hosted a glittering dinner where organisations which have continued to excel in customer service despite the challenging economic environment prevailing in the country, were honoured for their sterling efforts in promoting a culture of service excellence and upholding customer service standards and values which are key ingredients for economic and social transformation of our country. It was a night of glitz and glamour as representatives of various organisations walk to the podium to receive their service excellence awards.

The awards, which are held annually are meant to promote and nurture a culture of service excellence in Zimbabwean corporates as well as motivate organisations towards continuous improvement. They are also aimed at fostering a competitive culture within homogenous industries. A culture founded on excellent service delivery leading to customer satisfaction, which in turn drives customer loyalty and corporate profitability.

The awards, which are in their second edition were introduced in the southern region business community last year as part of CCAZ efforts to improve customer service ethos across the country with an endeavour of improving service delivery in the region thereby improving local companies’ dwindling revenues and profits.

This year’s edition, which was held at the Bulawayo Rainbow Hotel on March 23, has seen significant growth in numbers of delegates and number of organisations participating in this annual prestigious event. Running under the theme, “Celebrate success, Inspire Excellence”, the event attracted over 200 delegates from various organisations.

Gracing the event were high profile delegates who included the Director General of the Standards Association of Zimbabwe, Dr Eve Gadzikwa, who was also the guest speaker and Mr Jeffrey Phiri, CCAZ national president and DHL Country Director.

In her key note address, Dr Gadzikwa said, “These awards are coming at an important time in Zimbabwe’s history under the new dispensation and when Zimbabwe is open for business.

“We should also note that on March 22, 44 countries in Africa have signed the AfCFTA, in Kigali, Rwanda signalling market integration and significantly larger market for our quality goods and services. Tonight’s winners therefore have an opportunity to expand into this larger market with their quality service excellence.”

She added, “The wider community is becoming aware of the value and role that customer service plays in achieving business success in collaboration with standards which are an important tool for achieving sustainable economic development and growth. Service has become a major contributor to economic development of the region and therefore these awards are playing a part towards developing this sector”.

Dr Gadzikwa said the awards have a positive impact on organisations and bring new business. She also said that successful organisations differentiate themselves through excellent customer service that leads to customer satisfaction, loyalty and retention.

Representing the team of adjudicators, Mr Benson Mukandiwa said the research for the awards is composed of online surveys, physical questionnaire surveys, mystery shopping data and company submissions. The Zimbabwe Customer Satisfaction Index (ZimCSI) Report, a survey which was recently launched by the Chartered Institute of Customer Management in partnership with Select Research and CCAZ also plays a pivotal role in helping the adjudicators come up with the winners’ list.

The ZimCSI is an economic indicator based on modelling of customer evaluations of the quality of goods and services purchased in Zimbabwe produced by both domestic and foreign firms with substantial market shares. During the rating process, adjudicators use variables that include customer expectations, perceived quality, perceived value, customer complaints and customer loyalty.

He reiterated that brands undergo an initial categorisation process, where they are put into similar industry sectors, followed by consumer research, then an external audit of the objectivity of the process and then finally an evaluation by the adjudication committee.

Mr Mukandiwa explained, “The awards are judged by an adjudication committee which comprises industry experts and customer service professionals.

The essence of an adjudication committee in the awards process is to ensure the inclusion of an independent party which gives a professional and fair rating of a brand.

“The process is bias free and involves an independent sub-process to arrive at winning brands.

Any potential for subjectivity is filtered away by the large number of adjudicators involved, including the involvement of an independent market research firm and professional auditors to validate the process”.

Speaking on the sidelines of awards ceremony, CCAZ Southern Region marketing executive Mr Kennedy Chimbare said the awards are a building block to excellent service delivery.

He said the concept of customer is King should be engraved in organisations in order to ensure that their customers emotionally connect with their brands.

“Those organisations which are still disregarding their customers’ powers should start shifting focus towards service excellence, lest they be left lagging behind the conceptual shift and go under.

Organisations should understand that customers — and not products and services — are the source of all revenue and profits. There are no results inside the organisation’s walls.

The result of a business is a satisfied customer. This means that companies can no longer minimise the importance that customer satisfaction and loyalty play in virtually every aspect of business operations,” he said.

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