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A MESSAGE FROM SHARNIE MALAN, CUSTOMER SERVICE DIRECTOR AT JAGUAR LAND ROVER SOUTH AFRICA

It’s all about grit, grit and some more grit! Only by be being truly fearless and going after what your heart desires can you and will you be able to achieve anything in life!

I’m well aware that my opening statement can come across as quite strong, but I can tell you that if you want to make your mark, unapologetic perseverance and tenacity go a very long way. Add the right attitude and an open, inquisitive mind into the mix and you will achieve great things. Trust me, I went from ceramics to automotive, to chemicals and then back to automotive. What remained consistent throughout my entire career was my passion first off for providing customers with an excellent product, but even more so to provide them with excellent customer service experiences.

My personal career break through moment was when I allowed myself to be openminded, understand that each consumer request and case is unique and, to tap into the feelings that consumers feel towards a product, a brand and the brand representatives who are meant to help consumers get the most out of their purchase. So often, women can be seen as too reserved or emotional in the workplace or their careers, but rather than avoiding your gut feeling and response, go with it. This specific realisation changed the way I approached customer experiences completely, as understanding the power of a deeper more meaningful connection ensured that I had the ability to be able to unpack and address their specific needs and requirements, their constructive and positive feedback.

I’m very thankful that the culture at Jaguar Land Rover has nurtured my approach to my work as a Customer Service Director. The core of our work culture is that of Customer First Principles:

• Easy to do business

• Dependable

• Transparent

• Personalise

• Make me feel special

This not only ensures complete trust but it also becomes a barometer by which every interaction is measured, both internally and externally. Talk about perfect synergy! These values also lend themselves so well to the exciting trends that are emerging in customer service, where flexible touchpoints coupled with informed, personal and timeous responses, create positive emotional connections with brands.

From ceramics to developing the first-ever Aftersales Marketing Strategy for Jaguar Land Rover, I’ve taken on board all the emotions of shortfalls and successes to drive my personal and career growth, and I can only encourage you to do the same, unapologetically.

This Women’s Month and beyond, let’s make a point of allowing ourselves to not just see another person’s point of view, but to feel what they are feeling. There’s great power and potential when we learn from one another’s experiences.

I’ll end off with the quote that I live by, which I hope will serve to inspire you as well.

“It is not your aptitude, but your attitude that ultimately determines your altitude.” – Dr Martin Luther King.

Sharnie Malan, Customer Service Director, Jaguar Land Rover South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa