Revitalisation of industry necessary

Nonto Masuku

THE NATIONAL RAILWAYS of Zimbabwe (NRZ) is not operating anywhere near its full capacity, as is happening in a number of companies in Zimbabwe, particularly Bulawayo.

Last week, papers stated that the NRZ requires about $1,9 billion in the long-term to be fully revitalised and transformed. It was reported that board chairperson engineer Alvord Mabena was already engaging relevant stakeholders in trying to find a solution to problems bedevilling the troubled parastatal.

Mabena is reported to have stated that the government, management and employees shared a vision of implementing a revitalisation programme that would alter the way the NRZ does business and prepare it to face today’s challenges.

The plan to revitalise the NRZ is great news, particularly for the city of Bulawayo. However, as Mabena stated, the transformation of the parastatal is a process that will not happen overnight.

Truth be told, as it stands, the reputation of NRZ is at an all-time low. Therefore, revitalising the parastatal will require far more than just capital injection.

NRZ needs to work on its stakeholder relations. The parastatal needs to come up with ways of winning back the hearts and minds of the public.

In one of his articles, Chris Miksen, an author and businessman, lists some steps that organisations need to take in order to improve their reputations.

Step 1

Determine the cause of the business’s poor reputation and work on not repeating the same mistakes. Before an organisation can fix a problem, it needs to know the cause of the problem. Ordering better quality products, for example, will not help improve a business’s reputation if the cause of the problem is poor customer service.

Step 2
Announce any positive changes that have been made. Get the word out that your business has changed for the better by mentioning what you have done to improve.

Step 3
Focus on the customer. The way customers perceive business changes depends on the level of customer service provided. Overcoming a bad reputation requires an organisation to give full attention to the customer.

Step 4
Volunteer in the community or become a sponsor of an event that the organisation supports. Volunteering and sponsoring help support the community and will instantly bolster the reputation of an organisation.

Step 5
Get customer opinion about the business. For example, surveys can be used to get feedback from customers. If a large majority of customers has the same concerns and complaints, these need to be looked into and addressed.

Step 6
Train staff. Employees need to be trained in order to be well-equipped to perform their duties and to demonstrate a positive, welcoming attitude.

I am optimistic that the NRZ is already implementing or intends to implement some of these strategies. If not, this would be food for thought for NRZ.