What SA Entrepreneurs are Doing Wrong

What SA Entrepreneurs are Doing Wrong


Sales not meeting target?

It’s time to review your customer service.

Remember that time you really needed that service done to your car? You called to make an appointment and the voice on the other end promised to call back but never did.

Or that time the boutique was out of stock of an item you just had to have, and you watched them write your details down in that black book they all have that you suspect is used to swat flies with, because you still haven’t heard from them.

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The myth

As South Africans, we’ve all heard with a sense of nationalistic pride how the world is so impressed by our work ethic, and how in-demand South Africans are because we have a service orientated mentality.

“I’m from a third world country,” we shout at the hapless shoe sales person, “And we have better service where I’m from.” Really?

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The key to success

63% of SMEs fail within the first two years. Surely it can’t all be the economy. Is it possible that we actually suck when it comes to keeping our clients happy?

Here are eight things to implement to help improve customer experience and sales.

1. An SMS is good enough

When somebody reaches out to you via SMS, do you ask them to send you their details via email so that you ‘have them on your database‘? Or do you ignore it and think ‘if it’s important they’ll call’? An SMS is a sale waiting to happen, and you spurn it at your own cost.

2. Reply to emails and calls

I’ve lost track, and a few years I’m sure, waiting for people to get back to me when I’ve sent a query. Especially those web forms that are so popular these days. I just know I’m not going to get a response from anyone this century.

As the business owner, you should grab every lead with both hands and bend over backwards to convert those leads into sales.

3. Get a credit card machine or Snapscan

Are you a handyman, plumber, electrician, personal trainer, garden service, or any business that offers a personal service direct to the end user? And I bet you demand cash on delivery, don’t you?

Retailers without credit card machines just upset me. I have money in my pocket that I want to give you. Make it easy for me to spend with you.

At least get Snapscan – it’s super easy for customers to use and you won’t turn them away anymore, or send them searching for the closest ATM. No hassle, no fuss, and no waiting for EFTs to clear.

4. Listen to your voicemail

This is a problem a lot of us have. In this day of instant messaging, email on smartphones and the like, actually listening to your voicemail messages just seems so last decade.

Reality check: Not everybody out there is comfortable with today’s technology, and I can guarantee you that their money is as good as anybody else’s. And then don’t forget to call them back.

5. Follow up

You’ve quoted a client, and you believe you’ve met your end of the bargain. The ball is now in their court, and if you don’t hear from them again it’s because they weren’t serious clients in the first place.

Wrong! The wheel that squeaks the loudest gets the most oil, and you must remember that these people have money to spend. They want to give you their money – it’s up to you to convince them that you deserve it the most.

Follow up on your quotes and don’t let those fish get away.

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6. eCommerce: Allow for credit cards

The user experience when you want to do an online purchase and they expect you to pay via EFT because they haven’t got credit card facilities is a deal killer.

I have never purchased anything online via EFT. Although I know many South Africans prefer EFT there are a bunch of us who don’t.

7. Don’t force loyalty

If somebody is willing to give you their business, don’t get bureaucratic on them and try to enforce unreasonable notice periods.

Good customer service is usually rewarded by good word of mouth feedback, and releasing unwilling customers from antiquated contracts will give you a really good reputation with your customers.

Remember, there’s power in giving in order to receive, so have a magnanimous view instead of a small-minded one and your business will grow accordingly.

If you follow these basic steps, your business should succeed.


Dylan Kohlstadt
Dylan Kohlstädt is the founder and account director of Shift ONE: outsource marketing for entrepreneurs. She has ten years marketing management experience in insurance, financial and property industries plus six years hands-on experience in online marketing involving web, mobile, SEO, CRM and Social Marketing and is considered a subject matter expert on all things digital. Visit www.shiftonedigital.com for more information.

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  • Edward Byrne

    So true…

  • Edward Byrne

    So true…

  • Faeeza Khan

    So true and great tips!