GABORONE, Botswana, March 2020/ — This March, MultiChoice Botswana has commemorated International Women’s Month by shining a spotlight on the hard-working, glass ceiling-shattering, determined women of MultiChoice who make the engine of its business work whilst defying stereotypical gender roles. Being an African woman working in a tech-oriented sector like satellite TV can be challenging, especially for customer-facing staff who often have to deal with complicated technical issues.
As a customer service representative working on the frontline of customer engagement at a service centre in Gaborone, Phatsimo Tholo is all too familiar with this. Her competency, skill and even her own intellect are sometimes called into question by customers unfamiliar with dealing with women in the tech space.
“Some customers, specifically men with higher social standings or seemingly more important occupations, think women don’t understand technical queries. They believe we should be doing office work, and doubt our ability. Sometimes they even argue with us and demand to see a male colleague. But when he gives them the same advice, they change their tune. This can be demoralising sometimes, but I have adopted my own way of dealing with such situations,” Phatsimo explains.
Her approache includes being patient with the customer; really listening to them to understand their query or problem; and constantly improving her product knowledge to remain confident in her ability to assist them.
“We can do anything a man can do, so I don’t feel put down by customers like this. When you know what you are doing and you are confident in that ability, and love what you do, you can do anything. Improving your knowledge is a critical part of this though, because knowledge really is power,” she adds.
Phatsimo also uses interventions by her supervisor during difficult or more complex customer queries as learning opportunities, observing carefully how the query is resolved so she may do the same in future.
Having a strong female role model in her supervisor has had a profound effect on Phatsimo’s life not only professionally, but personally as well. After battling emotionally with a personal problem, it was her supervisor who suggested counselling – a move that changed her life.
“I had a problem that had begun at home a few years ago that had slowly escalated. I didn’t even realise I was battling with it until my work started to suffer. This affected my confidence and my self-assertiveness, and I felt people didn’t like me as a result. I spoke up and went to my supervisor and asked for help. She suggested counselling. I didn’t think I needed that in my life. But it was exactly what I needed in my life. If I was still working at my previous company, I would have never received the help that I did. But MultiChoice assisted me with accessing counselling, and that was a blessing,” Phatsimo says.
The difference in her life is palpable. Her confidence has returned, her happy ‘old self’ has reappeared, she once again feels alive and vibrant, and her personal and professional relationships have improved. There is a lightness to her being and a spring her step – all of which she credits to an organisation that supported its own at a critical time.
“MultiChoice is more than a workplace for me, it is my family!” Phatsimo says. “The company doesn’t care about what you can do for them, they care about you and your wellbeing. I love my job again. Every morning when I wake up, I’m so happy to come to work and do my job. I really love dealing with customers. For me, it’s not just about what the customers need or want from us as MultiChoice. I love listening to their backgrounds, their stories. When a customer smiles because of my service…it brings such joy to my heart and such pride. It makes my day, every day.”
She says women should not be afraid to speak up if they’re battling in the workplace. As mothers, daughters, sisters, wives and high performance workers, women often place a lot of undue pressure on themselves, which can be crippling during challenging times. Getting the help they need to step back into their power is life changing.
Phatsimo’s advice for other women is simply ‘love what you do’. “If you love your job and give it your best, everything will always fall into place. Be confident in your skills, in your product and company knowledge, and in what you are called to do, and you won’t go wrong,” she adds. “And never forget that as women, we can do anything!”