The Cape to Cairo Vision: CICM’s Service Excellence Awards

After just five short years, the Chartered Institute of Customer Management (CICM)’s Service Excellence Awards have firmly established themselves as an important initiative in the Sub-Saharan African region fostering businesses across the continent to the wider world as efficient, friendly and approachable.

The Service Excellence Awards were launched in Zimbabwe in 2012 by the Contact Centre Association of Zimbabwe (CCAZ) and the Chartered Institute of Customer Management. The concept of the awards were later expanded in the same year to capture African markets and also promote service excellence across Africa.

The Service Excellence Awards without any doubt whatsoever provide African businesses across all sectors with an unbelievable platform on which to maintain, develop and equally importantly sustain customer service levels and satisfaction to the highest of standards.

The awards aren't just about a pat on the back or a quick ego boost. They help to heighten a company's reputation.

Better yet, they help employees take pride in their work and instill confidence in customers about the quality and professionalism of the specific organization.

And as when gets to realize when traversing the continent or even globally, exceptional customer service is still quite uncommon, therefore really good – or at least very effective – customer service should be recognised, shouted about and rewarded.

Here’s a small timeline of key events around the Service Excellence Awards after they were expanded into Africa in 2012:

  • 2013 - CICM launched Zambia Institute of Customer Management (ZICM) in Zambia. There was an encouraging turnout and critical reviews setting pace for adoption in Countries where CICM was establishing presence. Meanwhile 2013 saw increased turn out in Zimbabwe’s second edition of the SEA.

  • 2014 – The third edition of the SEA was held in Zim, while Zambia hosted its first SEA.

  • 2015 - CICM made plans to roll out SEA with country partners in Rwanda ,  Tanzania , Botswana , During the same year, SEA was held in the following countries: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Namibia and Uganda.

  • 2016 – SEA were launched in Swaziland with country partner – IRDM Swaziland. 2017 and Beyond - CICM has a vision to spread the awards to the rest of Southern Africa, including launching regional and continental SEA awards which has  been penciled for 2018.

SEA has become the flagship of CICM generating a lot of interest and shedding a lot of light on service excellence in all the countries represented. Most SEA events are attracting an average of 400 delegates per event. This year Zimbabwe and Swaziland had a record breaking 450+  delegates in attendance .

In Zimbabwe CICM also launched the National Customer Satisfaction Index (NCSI) this year, which was the main highlight of the just-ended Customer Service Week, an international event celebrated world-wide during the first full week of October. The nationwide survey showcased all the sectors in the industry and how individual companies were rated against each other. This was also used as input to the prestigious Service Excellence Awards. CICM’s CEO Ricky Harris also weighed in that they are rolling out the same NCSI in different countries across Africa to enable industry and benchmarking data which is key for government, investors and other stakeholders.

Mr Rinos Mautsa who is also part of CCAZ and CICM board has been instrumental in the execution of the SEA concept across the continent.

According to Mr Mautsa, the awards selection process is rigorous and it includes online survey through Survey monkey and physical distribution of questionnaire in major towns across the respective countries, followed by mystery shopping and local experts comprising of academics, auditors and researchers who will also sit down to adjudicate the research results before announcement of the winners.

The Customer Service Excellence Awards have become a key catalyst in improving the competitiveness in customer service, mostly in Sub-Saharan African countries where these awards have made a significant impact over the years.

According to CICM upcoming country awards for the year will be Malawi, Tanzania, Nigeria, Botswana, Rwanda and Ghana among several others.