Answer that phone!

Businesses that practise good customer relations make sure their ‘frontline people’ – those who answer the phone – are trained, competent, friendly and helpful.

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Other businesses usually offer a surly “Hello” and little else. They’ll take ages to answer, if at all, and then the person picking up the phone is about as friendly as a hailstorm. You know what I’m talking about. We all have stories about indifferent service on the other end of the phone – often involving large corporations which ply us with their ‘customer care’ philosophies, and then do nothing about it.

Now, let’s see if markets have a better record than most when it comes to customer care. “Customer what?” I hear you asking, because it seems to be a concept which has yet to reach most of our markets or their managers. In their defence, this is largely because most markets belong to municipalities. Need we say more?


However, at the risk of incurring their wrath, let me list the four top markets (based on personal experience)and give you an idea of how they rate on a scale of 0 to 5 when it comes to that simple task of answering the phone, with 0 being ‘awful’, 3 being ‘OK’ and 5 ‘very good’. Bear in mind, these are the big guys and should be setting an example.

Jo’burg Market: Rating 2. SA’s largest market spends a pile of money telling us how wonderful it is, yet remains slow and unhelpful in the phone-answering department. In fact, it can be quite annoying sometimes. 

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Tshwane Market: Rating 3. OK most times, slow at others and occasionally indifferent. It does at least ensure there’s always somebody at reception, which is good. If there is no reply from the person you want – leave a message and then hope for the best.

Durban Market: Rating 2.
Every now and then you’ll get a quick reply, but most times you’ll have to wait and wait. If you do get a reply you might get some help, but that’s often in short supply too. Phoning this market is usually more frustrating than positive and pleasant. Leave a message? What’s that?

Cape Town Market: Rating 4, sometimes 5.

Calls are answered quickly, and in a friendly, helpful manner. If the person you want isn’t there, they’ll actually come back to you and ask if someone else can help or if they can take a message. Does this have anything to do with Cape Town Market being a private business? I wonder…

Contact Mike Cordes at [email protected] with ‘Market floor’ in the subject line.