I work at a company called Bogo and although I have had a very varied corporate career, working here was (and is) more challenging and ultimately more fulfilling than working for any other company I have been a part of. We offer a book or an app based on the ‘buy one get one free’ premise, especially for the number one entertainment in Pakistan: food and eating. Although the concept and product is not new, it is a novelty in our market. We may not be pushing the boundaries of human knowledge but we are providing a service and filling a gap in the market.
Although I have an aversion to being my own boss, I have a greater detestation for fluff and show. Currently there is a lot of shallow thinking on view in both the local and global start-up and marketing arenas. People are constantly searching for ways to be disruptive and innovative. In the past the Holy Grail was being creative; now, this old idea has two new siblings: disruptive and innovative. There is a tendency to oversell, to embellish and over commit.
One of the reasons I joined Bogo was because the product idea was solid. The challenge of importing a regional concept (Bogo is based on the Entertainer of Dubai fame) to a city like Karachi was exciting. There were barriers that needed to be dealt with. People were sceptical and some believed the product was fake. For no other brand was the user experience literally the moment of truth. One bad experience and the post purchase cognitive dissonance would kick in to over-drive.
In order to sell a product that was new and in a market that had previous bad experiences with vouchers, we needed to be drastically different. So what did our CEO decide to do? What would set Bogo apart from the current competitor and future competitors? The focus was simple; provide not good but excellent customer service. Our mantra is and was “Not even one customer should leave Bogo dissatisfied.” This may seem basic but in reality it isn’t.
One of the issues in modern marketing and customer management is that the organisation values something that customers do not care about. A case in point is technology. Many companies are fooled into believing that technology is a goal; it is not, it is a tool. A tool to better serve customers and improve their experience.
There is a saying that people don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad bosses. Similarly, people don’t leave bad companies or bad products, they leave bad customer service. Everyone knows that the cost of retaining a customer is far less than the cost of acquiring one. Yet in our market, although customer service appears to be a key focus, it really is not. The responses are robotic and the follow-up is snail paced because the speed at which customer queries are dealt with is hindered by protocol and corporate bureaucracy and procedure. At Bogo, because we had the advantage of being a smaller organisation, we are able to move quickly to respond and fix issues and as quickly as possible. Much to the chagrin of our CEO, we are not perfect but we remain fixated on our focus to give the customer the best experience and service.
One of the issues in modern marketing and customer management is that the organisation values something that customers do not care about. A case in point is technology. Many companies are fooled into believing that technology is a goal; it is not, it is a tool. A tool to better serve customers and improve their experience. The way a customer will use your product depends on how user friendly it is. While developing and upgrading an app or website, it is crucial to factor in customer feedback. In 2016 we launched a complimentary app for our customers. We followed the standard two PIN model, where a customer enters their PIN and then the merchant enters theirs for redemption. We had issues because customers would forget their PINs or had signed up with an old account and could not remember the password. To facilitate customers we created emails and ultimately, although conventional wisdom dictated against it, in 2017 when we launched our paid app, we did away with the customer PIN altogether. This small step actually paid off as the redemption process became simpler and we had to spend less time on this issue.
Our journey towards better customer service continues and customer feedback is an extremely important part of this journey. Another one is experimenting with solutions which may come from people who are not part of the customer service team but know the processes we use. The rule is simple: nothing is etched in stone. There is no reason you can’t do things differently, even if the industry hasn’t embraced those standards. Sometimes focusing on one thing can be an innovation and in a market like Pakistan providing excellent customer service can truly be a disruptive idea.
Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan. email@example.com