ASTANA – Astana and Almaty retail trade networks are not making enough of an effort to improve the quality of their services, said 52 percent of customers surveyed in a recent poll.
This is despite the fact that Kazakhstan is gradually reducing taxes and administrative barriers and is simplifying the inspection system. Small- and medium-size businesses are given significant financial support through the Damu Entrepreneurship Support Fund. Within the State Programme of Accelerated Industrial and Innovative Development (SPAIID) and the Business Road Map 2020 programme, new mechanisms for the processing sector’s development have been worked out.
Experts are raising the alarm because maintaining a 52 percent dissatisfaction rate among customers could pose risks of bankruptcy and other economic woes for companies. The indifference to customers is coming at a time when unprecedented state funds are being allocated for entrepreneurship development and support of business projects in various sectors of economy.
But the state’s efforts may be hindered by unprofessional trading companies that bring products or services to consumers.
From January to July 2013, the Motivation Company held 1,427 secret shopper inspections in retail networks in Almaty and Astana. Information from the visits was collected on a standardised questionnaire, which included such categories as “Customer service on the trading floor,” “Appearance and behaviour of employees on the trading floor,” “Service of buyers at the checkout counter” and “The condition of the shop floor.”
The lowest scores were in “Customer service on the trading floor:” only 22.3 percent of customers were satisfied with the services provided. 70 percent of the inspections showed complete ignorance of the range of products by the sellers and a lack of presentation skills.
Unfair service at the counter, non-issuance of receipts and short-changing were mentioned by 2 percent of those polled. As for the behaviour of the sales staff, 25 percent of respondents noted cases of sellers talking to each other for 10 minutes or more, ignoring waiting customers.
Despite the fact that the consumer market in Kazakhstan is relatively small, the level of requirements is constantly growing. In order to stay afloat, the heads of retail businesses and their employees should recognise the need to fight for customers, experts say.