Pep’s fo­cus and plea­sure

Finweek English Edition - - The orange index -

PEP’S NUM­BER ONE over­all rat­ing in Ask Afrika’s Orange In­dex may come as a sur­prise to some. How­ever, when you con­sider the group’s vi­sion, the re­sult isn’t sur­pris­ing at all. Pep’s vi­sion sim­ply states: “De­lighted cus­tomers: our fo­cus and plea­sure.” Which, says MD Ge­orge Steyn, makes the recog­ni­tion es­pe­cially grat­i­fy­ing.

Steyn def­i­nitely be­lieves in the dis­tinc­tion be­tween cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and cus­tomer de­light. “If a cus­tomer is de­lighted he’s cer­tainly sat­is­fied; whereas a sat­is­fied cus­tomer wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily be de­lighted. At Pep we pride our­selves on ac­tively try­ing to de­light our cus­tomers through our friendly ser­vice, our in-store ex­pe­ri­ence, our range and qual­ity of mer­chan­dise and, of course, our low prices. We also con­tin­u­ously urge our em­ploy­ees to go that ex­tra mile for the cus­tomer.”

Steyn says the dif­fer­ence be­tween cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and cus­tomer de­light is about not just meet­ing but ex­ceed­ing cus­tomers’ ex­pec­ta­tions. “It’s about pleas­ant sur­prises for the most im­por­tant per­son in our busi­ness – the cus­tomer.”

Hav­ing said that, it’s im­por­tant to con­tin­u­ously eval­u­ate cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion as part of your busi­ness opera-

tion, he says. “No­body in the trade will ever per­fect it, but you have to do what­ever it takes to im­prove ev­ery year. We also be­lieve that if you’re giv­ing peo­ple con­sis­tently what they want in the way they want it then you’re go­ing a long way to please and de­light them.”

Steyn says that the trick in re­tail is to un­der­stand that re­tain­ing your pre­cious cus­tomers is more im­por­tant than at­tract­ing new ones. That’s why Pep re­searches and in­ter­acts with all its cus­tomers – and those that have left – to make sure the or­gan­i­sa­tion un­der- stands what its of­fer­ing should be.

How­ever, Steyn says that cus­tomer de­light is un­der­es­ti­mated in SA. “South African con­sumers are be­com­ing more so­phis­ti­cated ev­ery day and they ex­pect more. They shop in smarter places and, where nec­es­sary, we’ve added more stores and moved our stores ac­cord­ingly to ac­com­mo­date them.”

The no­tion that South African con­sumers are un­in­formed and ex­pect the worst isn’t ac­cu­rate, he says. “South Africans are as in­formed as any other na­tion. Pep cus­tomers are highly in­formed con­cern­ing price and qual­ity, be­cause in many in­stances they can’t af­ford to buy some­thing that doesn’t have dura­bil­ity. That makes them very smart and in­formed in­deed. They com­pare prices, qual­ity and range of mer­chan­dise all the time. What our cus­tomers de­mand is the best – and that’s what we try to give them.”

Look­ing ahead, Steyn says that SA’s re­tail in­dus­try has to be highly cus­tomer fo­cused to sur­vive and in­deed grow. “Over­all, we be­lieve that SA is fast learn­ing that ser­vice is the key to suc­cess and cer­tainly at Pep we know the value of that ethic.”

Cus­tomer de­light is un­der­es­ti­mated in SA. Ge­orge Steyn

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