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Ode to Swazi Design management

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Sir,

Kindly publish my letter in your esteemed newspaper, it is directed to the Swazi Design management, a company specialising in printing, based in the country’s industrial nucleus, Matsapha.

This is after I have seen fellow customers (including myself) at this company complain without our complain being taken seriously. I hope they will after reading this letter!

I have done my printing with this company from their inception, have seen them grow in leaps and bounds right up to where they are now, a reputable company. In this letter I write to register my utmost disgust at the appalling service we as customers receive at Swazi Design!

The management has grown to care less about any complaints registered by customers, these complaints range from shabbily done printing/embroidery, mixed up items for print or long-overdue printing deadlines on items. When you register a complaint they either give you hot air or force you to take what you had come to print even if it was improperly done, thus rendering a loss to whatever establishment you might have been doing that printing for. The least said about the deadlines, the better, how do they come to explain having a customer’s job not done for up to a month? What form of service is this?

Lately, they have introduced rather ‘very interesting’ charges on jobs they do, for instance the E500 minimal charge, the quantity of what you have come to print? How do they justify this? And sadly no matter how much grief you voice at such calamities, you can predict their justifications long before the management comes through to make you ‘understand’. 

I am not an MBA-holder or the least, a B.Comm holder, but I use my common-sense, and to me it detects that at the heart of every business is the customer, not the management, so, I’d like the Swazi Design management to do a self-introspection, ask themselves why the company exists in the first place? Is it to give the directors some ‘status’ in society or it is to serve the Swazi people? If it is the latter, I’ll suggest they go back to the drawing board and re-evaluate their intentions and stop crippling us and insulting our intelligence!

Below, I have a few requests directed to them:

1. Stop being a management-centred company, and be a client-centred company; improve your customer service and leave your egos at home! STOP TREATING THE CUSTOMERS LIKE YOU ARE DOING THEM A FAVOUR!

2. Listen to our complaints, and accept when you have wronged a customer, and make amends here! Give the customer a reason to come back!

3. Treat your customers, equally (i.e; irrespective of RACE or business size).

4. Re-visit the newly introduced price rates and seek sensible justifications for them!

5. Keep your promises (deadlines, when you say seven days, make it seven days, not 70 days. Spare us the explanations!

6. Motivate your staff, currently they seem passive and careless about how our jobs are done!

7. Bring back that complaints board you replaced with a mirror...who needs the mirror?

Lastly, I hope now that a complaint directed to you through national media will get your attention, but most importantly, that you will start taking the customers’ complaints seriously and improve your service! In the next letter (and if you once again fail to listen to the customer), I am going on national radio, then T.V or a huge billboard (done by you!), it all depends on you.

Thank you for taking your time to read and ponder my letter!

Hope all my concerns will be attended to and the Swazi community will receive the quality service we deserve, not the excuses and faults, with immediate effect!

Disgusted, frustrated and stressed Swazi Entrepreneur (your customer of course!)

X.Y.Z

Dear X.Y.Z,

First and foremost Swazi Design would like to thank the writer very much for bringing your concerns to light and to our attention.  Feedback in any way or form is important for any business to grow.  As you so rightfully pointed out Swazi Design has been extremely privileged and blessed to have the incredible support of our customers, staff and the local community. This has enabled Swazi Design to grow in leaps in bounds by bringing the latest technology to Swaziland, creating employment for close to 100 people.  By choosing instead to spend profits growing Swazi Design as opposed to on the shareholders, the company has been able to achieve growth and set new bench marks in many areas within the industry.  Unfortunately people make assumptions and draw their own conclusions regarding processes designed by management, in the best interests of effectively running and adapting to change in a growing business.  Swazi Design would like to take this opportunity once again thank our anonyms customer for taking the time and making the effort to bring these matters to light.  We would like to invite the writer to take the time to come in and meet with us, so these matters may be discussed face to face.  Clearly the writer cares about Swazi Design and how the business operations affect its stakeholders.  As opposed to assuming that nothing will change you are making the effort to find a solution to these challenges.  This is greatly appreciated.  

We would like to clarify some of the points conveyed in your letter.  Swazi Design have most certainly experienced a challenging and interesting period over the last 12 months.  Within a very short period of time, Swazi Design has grown from a small home-industry business (after many years) to a major player in the branding industry, through a lot of hard work, sweat and tears – but more importantly through the dedication and support of our customers and staff.  We have vastly extended our product and service range to include industry related products that are not available elsewhere in Swaziland, which has been a substantial investment in recourses on Swazi Designs behalf.    Keeping the work in Swaziland is one of our main objectives: 98% of Swazi Design’s work is done in-house.

Due to our daily volumes of work, with the majority of the work we get being rushed jobs, for deadline events, often with very little time to arrange stock from across the border,  it has been an extreme challenge for Swazi Design and our staff to cater for all the needs of all the customers.  Perhaps you have heard of the 80/20 principle in business;  where a good business usually aims  to achieve 80 per cent customer satisfaction.  Swazi Design is aiming for 100 per cent and all these shifts that are occurring are the result of extensive planning, implementing and re-evaluating our business operations.  The more feedback we get from our customers the better service we can provide.

Swazi Design has spent a significant amount of money on a software package developed to improve our tracking, recording and notifications of the considerable amount of jobs going through our system. Swazi Design has also embarked on a recruiting programme to ensure that we have the correct team in place to offer the levels of service that we are aiming at achieving.    Swazi Design also regularly sponsors large amounts of resources to many of our valued customers as a way of giving back. We pride ourselves in developing relationships with customers, regardless of size and will continuously try our utmost best to ensure that all of our customers are getting the required level of service due to you. Some facts.

*New software will help track jobs to meet deadlines.

All customers are treated equally - this will now include how their accounts, quotes, artwork and jobs are handled.

The design centre is splitting away and will be run separately, where Design Sales Staff will be speaking directly to the customers and assisting with their artwork.

Production will run separately to ensure that once artwork is approved by our customers your production will run smoothly with minimal delays.

A new division is being created to cater specifically to the needs of our customers requiring smaller volumes, and the current factory will concentrate on the larger volume runs thereby providing equal service to ALL our customers.

We have embarked on a training program for our employees to ensure better service to customers.

*Within the next two months a new customers suggestion computer with online catalogues will be installed in the front office to further assist our customers.  (Our mirror will stay up as per the request of many customers)

Swazi Design will be refocusing on its core business.

* hope that my brief explanation has shown that Swazi Design has already identified a number of these issues that typically arise with the rapid growth of a new business, and that we are aggressively addressing these problems. One of the challenges a business as diverse, new and technologically advanced as Swazi Design has is that there are no other players in the market that Swazi Design can draw resources and experience from. We have to train from within and learn as we go.  Our choice is to rather hire Swazis before turning our sights elsewhere for the required expertise.

For any further suggestions I implore you to please email us on suggestions@swazidesign.co.sz or fax on 518 4992 if you do not wish to speak to us directly as was the wish of this customer.

P.S.  Any complaint addressed directly to me will be attended to personally within reasonable time. I thank you for yours albeit it not sent directly.  Dean van Zyl

 

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