The CEO of Edgars and CNA now deals with customer complaints himself – here's what other bosses can learn from his approach
- Edcon CEO Grant Pattison took to Twitter to help customers with their problems over the past week.
- He expressed frustration with Edcon's current customer service.
- A client-service expert says his responses got it exactly right.
- For more stores, go to Business Insider's home page.
Unhappy customers of Edcon-owned stores (Edgars, CNA, and Jet) unexpectedly received high-level attention from the company’s CEO over the past week.
Grant Pattison has been addressing customer problems via Twitter, while expressing his own frustration about Edcon’s customer services, which have been outsourced for a number of years.
Our Customer Contact center has been badly outsourced for the past several years. At the end of January it will be insourced again. We believe service levels will improve as we take control again.— Grant Pattison (@GrantPattison) January 27, 2020
He proceeded to interact directly with customers:
Will you please give me chance to figure out why it went wrong and see if we can fix it? At minimum so it doesn't happen to someone else.— Grant Pattison (@GrantPattison) January 26, 2020
Mr Essa. You are right we completely mishandled this at every step. Your account will be converted to 6 months without delay. Our apologies.— Grant Pattison (@GrantPattison) January 27, 2020
Hi Themba. You should have the letter from us confirming the fraud and clearing you. We are following up with the Bureaux to ensure they have cleared the record.— Grant Pattison (@GrantPattison) January 28, 2020
Pattison’s responses got it exactly right, says Brendon Bairstow-Klopper, customer experience specialist from the client experience company nlighten.
“He did not dismiss the customer's feelings, instead he acknowledged his frustration and demonstrated a genuine understanding of what the customer was going through.
“It's important for companies to know that when customers take to social media, it’s a very loud and very clear demand to be heard. What could at first be perceived as a negative event, can very quickly turn into a positive one, if handled correctly.
“Social media can feel insincere at times, so when customers receive a personable response from the CEO of a company, and not just a standard robotic answer, it can go a long way to win over loyalty. Hopefully more CEOs can start being accessible to their customers and wake up to the power of social media as a direct means of engagement and improving customer service in SA.”
Edcon CEO Grant Pattison personally intervened via Twitter to help a customer whose 6 month interest free store account been unilaterally converted into 12 month interest bearing account. Notwithstanding that the system had failed, his public intervention is rare among CEOs in SA— Sure Kamhunga (@SKamhunga) January 28, 2020
An electric engineer by training, Pattison started his career and Anglo American and became CEO of Massmart (which owns Makro and Game) at the age of only 35 in 2006. After overseeing the takeover by the US retail giant Walmart, he left the company in 2014.
Pattison joined Edcon in 2017 as the company was staring into a financial abyss. It has billions in debt, which had snowballed since the American investment firm Bain Capital bought it in 2007.
TAKE A LOOK: The first 'new' Edgars store has play areas, personal shoppers and a section where you can print your own t-shirt
He was credited with saving the group from collapse by securing a R2.7 billion lifeline, striking a recent deal with landlords, the Public Investment Corporation, and creditors.
Pattison shut the loss-making Boardmans and Red Square chains, and have closed a number of prominent stores – including the Edgars in Rosebank mall, and various CNA outlets.
Thanks James. It's sad for us too. Unfortunately in that mall, the landlord wanted to renew the rent at R340 per m2, and we normally pay half that in similar mall. We can not run stores at a loss. Most of our CNA stores run at a profit.— Grant Pattison (@GrantPattison) January 23, 2020
(Compiled by Helena Wasserman)
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