Apr 20, 2012
Service increasingly critical as consumers discover social-networking powerBack
Africa|Facebook|Foschini|Lighting|Twitter|Woolworths|World Wide Worx|Africa|South Africa|Fashion Chain|Food|Internet Research|News Feed Site|Product|Products|Social Media|Social Networks|Social Site|Arthur Goldstuck|Bruce Whitfield|Power|Talk Radio 702|Simultaneous Technology|Smart Phones|Smartphone
© Reuse this
About a third of South African cellular smartphone users were using their devices to browse the Internet at the beginning of 2011. However, a further 26% are expected to join them, which means that, by the middle of this year, half of the adult market in towns and cities, between five- million and six-million people, will be browsing the Internet on their phones and will have an instant mobile broadcast mechanism in their hands at all times.
“Social networks, such as social site Facebook and news feed site Twitter, have transformed how the customer thinks and behaves and the smartphone revolution has [changed] the way in which South Africans access information,” he says.
A number of big brands have already come under the whip of social media, explains Goldstuck.
For example, food and clothing retailer Woolworths had to reverse a decision to remove a Christian magazine from its shelves because customers in the store could send messages to others to boycott the company.
Further, fashion chain Foschini ignored a feminist blog decrying a range of its T-shirts sporting misogynist or antifeminist messages.
However, a link to the blog was posted on Twitter, from where it went viral and, within 12 hours, forced the CEO of Foschini to appear on Talk Radio 702’s Bruce Whitfield show to apologise, assure South Africans that the range had been withdrawn from all stores and confirm that people had been fired for allowing the T-shirt range into its stores.
“This is because people have their phones in their hands and can object, reject and spread messages to everyone they know, who, [in turn], can also spread the message. The viral effect of such messages means that companies can no longer afford to let their customers down or treat them badly, because customers will ensure that all potential customers know about that,” he warns.
This places significant demand on every business in every sector to reinvent itself and business has to take account of changes that have occurred as well as changes that are coming, emphasises Goldstuck, high- lighting the accelerating use of the Internet and smart phones in the mass market in South Africa.
“Companies must successfully market the value proposition of the products to be adopted into the mass market. However, once a product is adopted, many companies cannot keep up with demand or, if they can meet demand, they cannot meet the support needs for the product, which is where further risk lies.”
Support for a product has become a critical element and successful product support is often more important than the supply. This is why, if companies cannot meet demand, they must manage the expectations of customers, which means engaging with customers, he advises.
Goldstuck cites two examples of companies using the different communication channels effectively, with high-level management often engaging directly, which lends authenticity to a company’s customer communication channels.
“Authenticity is important, but the CEO also expects a response to a query to be deliv- ered within five minutes to the correct person for resolution. Because the executives are hands-on and use the channels effectively, this is the best strategy for engaging with this simultaneous technology and communi- cation revolution, which began in 2011.”
Goldstuck recommends a team of people manage engagements over different communication channels and use the viral effect of social networks to spread information.
However, he emphasises that companies must stick to their core competences or run the risk of failing and must also engage different market segments differently to weather the storm of technological change.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
The Built Environment unit at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has developed a cost-competitive ultrathin concrete pavement surface that, for the upgrading of unpaved roads to paved roads, is more durable than many other pavement alternatives...
The Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), based at Sutherland in the Karoo region in the Northern Cape province, is promising to become an important instrument for research into dark matter. "SALT is shaping up to be very important for answering questions about...
The South African tool, die and mouldmaking (TDM) industry is being revitalised to locally produce the tools, dies, moulds and fixtures required by the manufacturing sector. Local TDM capability is key to enable the manufacturing industry to remain competitive, says...
Misfortune often finds its roots in the smallest of things. Such as a centimetre or two. Or is that in inch? Perhaps a foot? Swedish or Dutch? The French had reason to blush in May as it became apparent that national rail operator SNCF had ordered 2 000 trains that...
The repositioning of the Fibre Processing & Manufacturing Sector Education and Training Authority (FP&M Seta) and its business processes will ensure improved performance in reaching strategic targets and in providing customer service.