I watched the recent documentary on Conjestina Achieng’ and felt a twinge of despair at her plight. It is a real shame for our collective conscience as Kenyans, to let one of our celebrated heroines wallow in a world of dire poverty, helplessness and ill-health. What happened to our collective pride of being our brother’s keeper, the African way? This is just but a reflection of the unenviable position our moral compass has declined to. I will not mention the alarming spate of strikes that has ambushed our daily lives, the forgotten children and patients who are most affected by the standoff between the powers that be. I choose to focus on the HOPE that we sorely need, that which makes us wake up every morning with the belief that things will get better.
The strength of a society is defined by how it defines its weakest members. How have as Kenyans treated those who are weaker than us? Our true character is mostly revealed in the ever-present traffic, where might is right, and everyone is a Schumacher in their quest to outdo the other to get to a non-existent destination. I believe the National Values of Kenya as defined by Article 10 of the Constitution still ring true. To refresh your memory on Civics, these values include Patriotism, Human Dignity, Good governance, and Sustainable Development. I strongly believe the youth of this country are conscious of the immense potential within them, and are aware of the huge responsibility that awaits them in actualizing Vision 2030. The great infrastructural developments taking place in the country are to be commended, but this is purely hardware. The software that will propel this Vision is ingrained in our collective consciousness. Integrity, morality call it what you may, is the software that will drive the dreams of the nation.
I challenge each and every one to introspect themselves, search deep within ourselves and pose this hard-hitting question, am I a true Kenyan? Am I living the dream I would desire for my future generation? Then, and only then , can we learn to accord those who have bled for this country, the respect and gratitude they deserve for serving and representing the black, white, red and green that reflect our values. It is only then that we will realize that Leadership is not a position, but a responsibility. We would conduct ourselves with decorum that is due to the offices that we occupy. The likes of Joe Kadenge would not have to languish in need, after exemplary service to our nation. We would then not be required to pull them out of the woodwork during festivities to showcase them, then promptly forget about them the second the event ends. I dream of a Kenya that will embrace its heroes, both known and unknown, do you?
The recently held London Olympics captivated a global audience for some two weeks. The EPL has now taken over till May 2013. The Marketing gurus of brands like Samsung, P&G, Coca Cola and others must be taking stock of the impact their association with the just-concluded Games have had on their corporate agenda, and bottom lines as a result. Closer home, Team Kenya posted mixed results, with the exception of an outstanding performance from Captain Fantastic, David Lekuta Rudisha; whose incredible achievement was an oasis in the desert of unrealized expectations. P&G capitalized on the Games to localize their marketing content to tug at the core of Kenyans’ spirit, and attachment to mums. The likes of Catherine ‘The Great’ Ndereba were used to bring home the point of Ariel, of how much colors mean to us, and their role in keeping those colors clean. The incredible roles mums play in the making of an athlete also came out, as part of the company’s global strategy to also celebrate mums.
The 1st edition of the Masaku 7s was one of the best organized rugby-related tournaments that I have attended. The atmosphere was electric, Machakos Town was invaded by Nairobians, and Kambas from Diaspora (read Nai). Service centers sold food and drinks at competitive rates. The merchandising was superb, as the venue was flooded by black and yellow t-shirts, and hats; the event’s theme colors. Spectator stands were well-built, the pitch was in prim condition, and teams exhibited a passionate brand of running 7s rugby. Contrast this with the more established Christie 7s, which had little, if any hype, and the resultant low crowd was proof of the same.
The sports industry is a potential gold mine in Kenya for corporate, federations, sports tourism, and even individuals who excel in their respective sports. The impact sports has on an economy are exponential. Take the case of Machakos.The Town experienced an influx of about 3 000 local tourists over the two days, who almost brought it to a standstill. Petrol stations were full, Hotel and Lodges fully booked, clubs packed to capacity, and local businesses flourished as a result. Local politicians had no choice but to grace the event, lest they lose the mileage that came with such a tournament.
The whole event was the think-tank of a few sons of the land, who teamed up with the local investors, celebrities who hailed from Ukambani, and a few professionals of the beautiful game of Rugby, and voila! We had an awesome experience. Some of us had never before set foot in Mayakos, and really marveled at the cleanliness of the Town, and development opportunities in the offing.
The 3 pillars of the Vision 2030 were actualized in one weekend! Socially, Economically, and Politically, Kenyans got to interact with one another for the betterment of the Game, and Country. The local economy flourished, and politicians, incumbent and aspiring, all were present to meet their voters in a relaxed setting. The dream is for such a venture to be replicated in all the Counties in Kenya. The amount of talent that will be availed from the grassroots will be phenomenal, and the economy of these regions will be exposed to citizens, and potential investors.
I had the honor to bump into our very hardworking ‘Kanjo’ the other day. Now, kanjo is the local slang for the men (and women) of our city council. Here we were in Industrial Area for a client meeting, parked outside their gate, and asked the guard at the gate whether it was in order for us to leave some cash in case they ‘yellow boys’ came. He insisted that it was safe, and these guys were a rare occurrence anyway. Assured of our vehicle’s safety, we strolled in to the meeting. That was mistake number one.
After an intense three hours, we were politely interrupted by the news that our car was in the process of being clamped. We literally sprinted to the scene, to find some two fellaz who looked older than my old man. So, with all due respect, I enquired as to the nature of their ‘visit’. They were quick to inform me that we had no parking ticket, thus, they had to lay down the Law by ticketing us with a fine of Kshs. 2 100. Due to their advanced age, I politely informed them that we had followed all due protocol required, of which the guard at the gate was witness of. We requested to pay the standard parking charge, seeing that they were not there when we first arrived. They would hear none of that, and promptly ripped the ticket, and stuffed it at the windshield.
Okay, there was still room to salvage this. Since the deed had already been done, we asked whether we could pay right there and get it done with. Again, we were met with the nonchalance so typical of our public service, “Endeni kwa ofisi mlipe, kisha mtutafute”. Question, where and how do we get to this office, bearing in mind we were in the heartland of Inda?
So there we were, car-less on a Friday afternoon, and time was not on our side because past 3 p.m., the car would be towed away for the weekend, at an additional cost. Funny enough, this was one of those days you leave your wallet in your coat at the office, knowing that you are popping into a meeting and coming straight back to the office. For once in my life, I wished I knew People! I texted a pal and just prayed that the Vision 2030 wipes out all manner of inefficiency from our systems, for my kids’ sake.
Apparently, these guys normally hide from view, lying in wait to clamp the car as soon as one enters an office. They do not answer to anyone but themselves, are a force to reckon with, and possess the foulest mouths ever. All this despite their being senior citizens, who in my view, are the ghost workers yet to be dealt with; as they have perfected the disappearing act when most needed.
Haiya! To cut a short story even shorter, we waited for one of our own to get done with his meeting, after which he drove us to the offices to pay. The dilapidated state of the so-called HQ was a sight for sore eyes. In a corner there was a lady selling mandazis, no computer was in sight, and guys generally looked like their office. Upon payment the call was immediately made to unclamp the car, which we observed upon return. Talk of efficiency when money changes hands! Our boys in yellow had the audacity to wave at us as we passed by them, and I waved back, wishing them God’s blessings in all their endeavors as they are very hard-working members of the public service.
In a recent workshop, Dr. Nzilu Musyoki, Director of Marketing, Brand Kenya Board shared the following insights on country branding. Kenya turns 50 years old in 2013, and execution of plans should be the underlying factor as it achieves this milestone. We have done enough in developing strategies, manifestoes and the like. Country branding is meant to provide a fresh image of Kenya to its citizenry, investors and development partners. A critical mass of citizens is required to actively engage in, and believe in the structures established, so as to realize The Vision 2030.
The 5 dimensions that shape a Country Brand Index (CBI) are:
- National identity and image
- Public attitudes
- Basic services and infrastructure
According to Future Brand, Kenya is 8th in Africa and 77th in the world in fulfilling these dimensions. A sharp contrast to East African neighbor, Tanzania; who happen to be 7th and 68th, in Africa and the world respectively.
Nitakuwepo is a Brand Kenya Board initiative to rally citizens to actively participate in the development of their Towns and Cities, and the Nation ultimately. A study done recently revealed that negativity and cynicism about the country permeated through the fabric of the citizens. Is it a question of misinformation or promises broken continuously by those in authority? After my experience with these venerated members of the public service, I ask another question, what is the role of the Public Service, and is anyone holding them accountable as they harass hardworking Kenyans?
A whole two and a half hours was wasted on ineptitude, ignorance, incompetence, innuendo and all other ‘ins’. My belief in BrandKenya is that we are slowly, but surely, wiping off the spirit of mediocrity from our systems, and to quote Victor Hugo, no army on earth can withstand the strength of an idea whose time has come. We have a clear roadmap spelt out in the Vision 2030. This is our country, our Brand, let’s claim it, and give it the respect it deserves.
I had a run-in with a Telecoms service provider earlier today. They had deducted my credit top up just ten minutes after I had ‘kopad’. You can guess my ‘righteous indignation’ directed at them, never mind that it was five in the A.M. So here I was trying to call their customer service, only to be met by some funny directions. After finally maneuvering through that, I was welcomed by a five minute wait; listening to their awesome theme song. By then, some smoke was spewing from my ears, as you have all experienced at one time or another when confronted with poor service. So, thanks to modern technology, social media, in the form of Facebook, was the last resort. Needless to say, the response was prompt, and the guys have been able to clear the air on my queries, as mundane as they may seem. My friends also had a field day, chipping in on the wall post by taunting me ‘Come Baby, Come!”
My point is this: do not make a promise and fail to deliver. Your client will never forgive you, and if they do, they will not forget. It is said that people may forget what you said to them, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Kudos to my service provider, who finally got it right and was prompt to relay feedback when called upon to do so. My actual problem may still have not been addressed, but I appreciated being listened to. That form of engagement is as important in business as it is in our personal lives. My two cents advice to them would be to ‘soupe up’ their systems, processes and structures, as they have done in the incessant marketing campaigns that bombard my inbox, print and electronic media. They should look as good from the inside as they do on the outside.
Effective brand engagement is all about getting it right from the onset, so that when external communications is rolled out, there is a seamless message and service delivery to the target market. This is Gap 5 in the Servqual measurement tool of service delivery to consumers, versus what they actually experience. The gap between customer expectations and actual service delivery can be minimized if only due diligence is observed; and communication and feedback mechanisms like social media are tactically used to engage with consumers, long after the sale is done. Sustainability of the same ensures a sense of belonging, and the feeling that value has been experienced. On the part of the service provider, repeat and even life-long business from the customer is assured as a result. This is what is referred to as brand equity. Waswahili husema ‘Mgala muue na haki mpe”, so to my service provider’s Customer Care Desk, thank you.