Monday, 14 July 2008

Heading Out Of Malawi

We are now heading out of Malawi towards Botswana via Johannesburg. We arrived with a big box of my books, which totally sold out (all revenues to a local orphanage).

In Lilongwe we ran a full-day ‘Customer Is King’ event working with senior managers from some of Malawi’s key businesses (banks, postal services, seed producers). A challenging day, where the highlights were a highly lively debate about how to apply the 80:20 rule (AKA ‘sacking customers’) and the use of the ‘same/better/wow’ index for measuring/designing the steps of your customer journey.

I met people from a bank, with a ‘no appointment/walk in’ policy, committed to giving clients responses to applications ‘on the spot’ with full decisions made within 24 hours. An impressive offering.

Next we drove down to Blantyre to run a Management Express Forum. A fascinating four-hour drive took us through markets and across remarkable African landscapes. One of the most densely populated African countries, you were taken aback by the sheer volume of people on the edges of the road. And so many of them seemed to be waiting – just waiting…

The Blantyre seminar, ‘Bright Marketing’, attracted some 70 or so managers from small, medium and large businesses and government organisations in this commercial centre of Malawi.

Key moments were the 'elevator pitch' and the 'business card' exercises, which were participated in with real relish. Great Fun. And the serious message was ‘Be Different!’

Highlights from Malawi have to be the friendly, warm people and their hospitality:
- Our porter at the Sunbird Capital Hotel greeted us with the words ‘Welcome to the best hotel in Africa – it’s a fact’ and he really believed this to be the case…
- A dinner with a UK theatre production (Moj of the Antarctic – an African Odyssey’) and our hosts from the British Council…
- The faces of local fruit sellers pressed against our car windows as they offered us their wonderful fruits and vegetables…
- Meeting up with Jason Agar (ex- Durham Bus Schl) who now runs a development consultancy in Blantyre
- My attempt to eat mushrooms in tomato sauce at breakfast which turned out to be ox kidneys!

We were sorry not to spend more time in this country. Rave reviews of Lake Malawi make me feel that we have missed something special.

Special thanks as ever go to our friends at the British Council: Patience, Muhte, Grace, Chank and Selemani.

Bright Marketing – the book
Customer Is King – the book
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