It is an undeniable fact that the photography and videography industry in Malawi has made unprecedented headway progress in the last two decades or so. The handwork of the young men and women in the industry reflects great creative rigour, and quality; and, it would not be wrong to say that some of Malawi’s videographers and photographers actually stand out at both the regional and continental level.
Like with the case of Nigeria and the Nollywood industry, photography and videography has become a pathway out of poverty for some young Malawians. Photography and videography has also become one of the entrepreneurship options, and we have seen Photographers and videographers, providing employment to young people in Malawi. Photographers and videographers, also, to some extent, contribute to the economy of Malawi. We can debate about the percentage of the contribution later.
But despite the growth of photography and videography in Malawi, to what extent has customer satisfaction been achieved by the photography and videography service providers?
In this article, I focus on photography and videography services for weddings, engagements ceremonies and bridal showers. I believe that these are among the key income bases for photographers and videographers, and it is therefore important to understand whether these customers are satisfied or not.
From the people, I have come across, it seems, customer satisfaction, leaves a lot to be desired. There is a lack of honesty, negligence, crookedness, and little or no focus on developing and maintaining positive customer relations. This is displayed through loss of footage, trickery and theft, and delays in delivery of photos and videos.
Loss of footage and photos is among the major nuisances. You hire a videographer and photographer to capture your function. Months later, you are told that they lost the footage and the photos. The stories range from, ‘my computer crushed’, to ‘I cannot remember where I saved your footage and pictures.’ Mind you, this is after, you already paid for the service. Usually, there is no refund. You lose your money, and your products.
Then, we have videographers and photographers who demand upfront payment, but do not show up during the function. They do not even have the courtesy, to call, to let you know that they cannot make it. You are just surprised that this person did not show up, and their phone is outreach or goes unanswered. They do not even have the decency, to give the customer a refund. These, I call, thieves and trickster, masquerading as videographers and photographers.
Another nuisance is delay in delivering final products. A photographer and videographer tells a client that their pictures and videos are going to be ready the same week. When they know that this job is going to take a minimum of 2 weeks. If you factor in, Escom, this job will possibly take 4 weeks. But instead, of telling the client the truth, they will go ahead and give fake deadlines.
After waiting for eternity for the final products, you get a few pictures, and some raw footage burned on a DVD. Again, they have the audacity to claim that the DVD is an edited copy of the event.
Funny enough, after all this hustle, the videographer and photographer expects this customer to come for baby shower photos, or recommend you to their relatives and friends. I believe that is something that can only happen in mars or Jupiter.
Under normal circumstances, the culprits are not supposed to get more business, however, the limited videography and photography business market still finds them landing more businesses. So, what can be done to ensure that customers get the best in this system?
I believe that this can be sorted out, if clients demand for a contract before, they engage in any business with videographers and photographers. This working on trust approach, has not helped customers at all. It is only when consumers rise to demand better services, that this vice will be sorted out. Otherwise, we will be ripped off in this generation, and the generation to come.
I am all for buy Malawi goods and services. I am even for promoting young entrepreneurs. However, if young Malawians, are giving me a headache on a product that I paid for, I have no problems taking my business elsewhere, even though it might be slightly expensive.
- Chimwemwe Manyozo is a Chevening Alumni and Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society.