FROM what is happening in some service organisations, one can conclude that most organisations in our country have inadequate capacity and, therefore, have low strategic management approaches and, in the process, lack effective planning to respond favourably to customers' or clientele dynamic and increasing needs.
Such a situation has led to poor products and services. Consider how some telecommunication service providers have treated their customers in the last two weeks.
The services from some service providers were pathetic. It was difficult to make calls on some telecommunications service providers' lines.
Some service providers' services are worsening instead of improving on quality of service to customers.
The quality of some telecommunication service providers in the last two weeks have been so poor that some subscribers were forced to switch to other perceived effective telephone service providers. What is the problem?
To crown it all, some people told this writer that a certain telephone service provider deducted air-time units immediately one bought them.
Florence Luputa in Lusaka's Kanyama area said she stopped buying air-time in her telephone because each time she bought, even if she had no debt with that telephone service provider, all the units in her telephone were immediately deducted.
This writer couldn't believe what Florence was saying.
But on Monday, what happened to Florence in terms of deducting air-time units on someone who had no debt with such a telephone service provider happened to this writer.
This writer bought a K5.00 air-time and spoke to someone for less than a minute.
But when I wanted to ring someone else, there was a voice from my phone which said: 'You don't have enough credit to make this call'.
It was strange and painful to me! Now I know what to do with such a telephone service provider. If a service provider doesn't care about customers, who should care for such a service provider?
Let's come to commercial banks. The long queues that are found both inside the banks and at automated teller machines (ATM) of most commercial banks is worrying as this consumes much of the clients' time to do other things.
Long queues in service provision are a sign of poor services in an organisation.
Just consider how some ATMs in some commercial banks in some branches are operating. In most cases, some of these ATMs are out of order.
Do such banks have monitoring systems to know which ATM is working or has stopped working?
Why is it that 'it is business as usual' even when things are not moving well in the eyes of the customers?
Zesco has been facing increasing demand from both commercial and domestic customers for decades now.
And now the company is appealing to its customers to switch on only those appliances that use minimum power like bulbs, radio and television sets because the power system is under severe pressure.
But Zesco would have foreseen the growing power demand for electricity and forearm itself some decades ago.
This writer remembers in late 1996/7 talking to one of the Zesco electrical engineers in Chipata District about the frequent load-shedding and how this negatively affects some industrial and
domestic businesses, including production, fresh food suppliers, hair salons, barber shops, etc.
This writer told the engineer that had Zesco utilised commercial and domestic revenue collected in the past decades on strategic responses to potentially increasing population and industrial activities, the firm would not be in such a load-shading panic.
It was mentioned to this engineer that as a power supply monopoly, Zesco didn't make use of free statistics on population and housing which the Central Statistical Office (CSO) conducts every decade to strategically plan and prioritise allocation of resources to achieve Zesco's vision and goal.
In Zesco's application form for power installation, every applicant contributes to capital investment for electricity in Zambia.
This is a huge revenue contribution which when used for strategic purposes, would have made Zesco the best power supplier and exporter in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region.
But today, Zesco only exports power at night when there is low power demand locally while during the day or evenings, local electricity consumers experience long hours of load-shading.
Use of population statistics, strategic planning and prioritising allocation of resources would have helped Zesco to prevent load-shading in its operations.
It is now interesting and creating hope that while Zesco managing director, Cyprian Chitundu is appealing to customers to co-operate and support his firm in increasing electricity tariffs, and in switching on only necessary appliances, and that the Government with the help of co-operating partners is investing heavily in power generation and distribution to reduce or avoid further load-shading in Zambia.
This will soon make Zesco realise its vision of being one of the best power supply utility firms in the world.
But Zesco lost and is still losing an opportunity to be the sole major supplier of solar panels in Zambia and beyond.
Demand for power from solar panels is increasing both in rural and urban areas.
And Rural Electrification Authority can pick it up from there if Zesco is not interested in supplying solar panels in rural areas.
And if CSO was a private firm, it would have employed thousands of permanent workers as enumerators to collect data on various issues which most individuals, Government departments and civil society organisations need to make accurate and timely decisions.
Considering the increasing low and poor quality in some service organisations, it appears some private organisations have over-advertised their services against their current capacity.
Such aggressive marketing has attracted a huge number of customers to such service providers to the extent that some of these (service providers) are now overwhelmed by increased customer numbers.
Therefore, while economic salaries and good conditions of service for workers, top management officials and board of directors are among effective staff motivation tools, it is critical to consider smooth and sustainable operations of an organisation when such decisions are made.
Invest in right capacity in terms of quantities and qualities of human resources and machinery. Most parastatals and private organisations spend more resources on issues that don't directly lead to expansion, smooth and sustainable operations of that organisation.
Aim at improving on quality of products and services to attract and satisfy more customers.
(The author is a PR trainer and consultant. For comments and ideas, contact: Cell: 0967/0977 450151; E-mail:email@example.com)