17 April 2017

Liberia: National Quality Award Must Include Excellent Customer Service

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Commerce and Industry announced on Tuesday the creation of a "National Quality Award program with the goal of promoting excellence in organizational performance through quality awareness and understanding the requirements of quality products."

Our reporter Robin Dopoe Jr. quoted Commerce Minister Axel Addy as saying that the introduction of the award is a clear indication that government is committed to intervening to address problems associated with the poor quality of products on the Liberian market.

Minister Addy assured that the National Quality Award "will serve as a promotional tool to encourage business owners to prioritize quality in order to boost their market value and give them the advantage of exporting their products more easily to the international market."

Though a belated undertaking, we nevertheless laud Mr. Addy and his team for introducing a program with such a worthy goal considering the short period of time left for him as Minister of Commerce and Industry in the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led administration. In fact, the award will move business entrepreneurs who are doing their best, to do more, while others lagging behind in putting quality products on the market will feel the impact of the award and strive to excel.

One of the requirements the Minister should include in the National Quality Award program is excellent CUSTOMER SERVICE. The customer support software, www.Desk.com, defines customer service as "the support you offer your customers both before and after they buy your product which helps them have an easy and enjoyable experience with you." It should be added that great customer service leads to returning customers and more sales.

As vital and significant as this aspect of business is to entrepreneurs and buyers, many Liberian businesspeople do not know or value customer service, and this results in the poor quality products they put on the market. As the definition of Customer Service specifies, entrepreneurs need to value their customers and treat each one with a positive approach, respect, care, compassion and friendship. Contrary to these values, many Liberian businesspeople treat their customers with disrespect and aggression, giving the impression that the customer is compelled to buy the product whatever form and condition it is in. Most Liberian businesspeople treat customers as if they are doing the customer a favor instead of the other way around. These imprudent business people fail to realize that poor customer service, poor quality products, profiteering, failure to pay back a loan, keep their word, honor agreements and lack of strategic business plan, all constitute the woes preventing them from achieving business success.

Liberian owned businesses have over the years been strangulated by the domineering presence of foreigners, mainly Lebanese and Indians in the economy. This is an indisputable fact known to all Liberians. However, in order to clearly see and take out a beam from another person's eye, clear your eye first. Liberian businesspeople need to adapt good customer service in addition to offering quality products on the market if their businesses are to flourish.

This paper has extensively reported on business and identified hurdles affecting Liberian businesses. We therefore wish to encourage Minister Addy in his initiative to celebrate those who put out good products on the market and exhibit good customer service in order to teach others how vital these business approaches are to earning more profit and achieving overall success. Moreover, let Minister Addy set up an independent body that will investigate and identify, free of biases, the winners of this award so that the prizes will not be like any other awards given out to unscrupulous individuals in exchange for bribes.

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