It is fascinating watching South African consumers slowly but surely casting aside their apathy and demanding good quality and service. One hopes that business is keeping an eye on this transformation because, given the vagaries of consumerism, things don’t happen slowly but surely, they change overnight and suddenly, all that cutting of corners that errant shops and service providers thought they were getting away with, leap out and bite them on the bum.
Of course, there are still far too many things happening here in SA that wouldn’t be tolerated in most other countries.
Devil in the detail
Products and services that are a reminder that sustainable customer retention and satisfaction are entirely dependent on those often overlooked little details rather than big bang advertising and publicity campaigns.
A good example of this detail is the number of imported consumer electronic and electrical products that are sold in SA with those ill-fitting little two-pin European plugs.
Now, these are not just little things like toasters and electric drills but include some very expensive TV sets, sewing machines, home movie systems, dishwashers and the like.
Diabolical two pin plugs
And, while it makes sense to have a two-pin plug on something like a cellphone charger, hair dryer, or razor one might take on overseas trips, it is hugely inconvenient when importers flog the bigger stuff with flimsy plugs that you can’t cut off and replace with our big, bulky three-pin equivalents because it voids warranties and you are left having to spend anything from R12.00 to R25.00 on adapters that never seem to last and which can be downright dangerous.
It’s actually extremely insulting when you think about it, because in effect, companies overseas are saying, “Let’s flog this stuff to South Africa, but frankly they’re not important enough for us to fit their stupid plugs.”
For some importers and distributors this has already created a marketing problem but, for most, consumer apathy continues to allow them to get away with it.
But, as consumerism grows, more and more ordinary South Africans will do as I do and refuse point blank to buy any imported gadget or appliance that hasn’t got our plug on it.
That’s the thing about marketing – if you have no respect or consideration for your customers you won’t keep them very long. Sooner or later they cotton to your cutting corners.