By David Malherbe   –   Published in Drakenstein Gazette – Friday 6 September 2013

Business owners usually strive to become more efficient in their businesses. That means lowering cost(s) as well as effort to obtain the required result(s). Therefore they often take the route of more technology.

So instead of doing marketing by talking to people and listening to them, they send them e-mails.  They also tend to make use of complex phone answering systems which stop clients from reaching a real person.  “For accounts, press 1; for sales, press 2; for complaints, press 3; otherwise hold on for the operator.”  Does that sound familiar?  Sometimes you have to hold on for ages only to find the same story repeated. When someone eventually answers, you are most probably at the wrong department.  They redirect you elsewhere and you hold on again. By that time your urgency to buy something from them has changed into one big complaint.

So in our quest for efficiency we often take the life out of what we do.

Big grocery stores also want people to queue at the till. They place all kinds of sweets, chips, magazines, etc. right where you stand in the queue in the hope that you will make extra unplanned purchases. Somebody jokingly said that normally only two of the six tills are open, but when it is very busy, they only open one.  One sure has better things to do than spend hours in queues – what lousy service!

As business owners we must always remember that our customers are people first. A business owner last week mentioned that he tells his employees they must always remember they are people serving other people.

Peter Carruthers in Pete’s Weekly says “When you think of us as ‘consumers’ you lose sight of a key concept. Long before we are consumers of your products, we are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, each of us unique in lots of ways. The more effectively you see us as individuals, the more likely we are to listen to your story. Heck, we might even buy from you.”

“In the quest to be more efficient I fear we have lost much of our effectiveness. We have it backwards. Life is not a subset of Business. Rather, Business is a subset of Life.  Life is about people, not money.”

David Malherbe and Dewald Scholtz will discuss this topic in more detail Monday evening from 19:00 till 20:00 on Radio KC 107.7 FM in the program “You the Entrepreneur”

(David Malherbe is a business- and career consultant and lives in Wellington.  He can be contacted via his web page www.jedidiah.org.za or T/F 021-873 0262 or on Facebook at “Jy die Entrepreneur.”)

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