Time to focus on customer service and developing local managers


With Papua New Guinea’s economy slowing, there are more companies chasing fewer opportunities. How to ensure your business gets the job? The answers are good customer service and developing local talent, according to management consultant Robert de Loryn.

RdL's Robert de Loryn

RdL’s Robert de Loryn

For companies to be highly successful and profitable in these times of significant change, they must have a point of difference to their competitors.

There are two key areas that companies look to create this point of difference:

  1. Be a customer-focused organisation
  2. Develop highly skilled local management

Customer focus

Providing excellent customer service is an investment in future sales. However, a large number of CEOs do not pay attention to customer service—statistics show only about 40%.

It is generally much more cost effective to sell to existing customers than to keep having to find new ones. There’s a 5% to 10% probability of selling to a new customer, whereas the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%. Plus, it costs six times more to get a new customer than it does to keep a existing one.

Great customer service is the best way to retain customers. Business leaders should therefore take the long term view that great customer service will lead to increased profits.

Through staying close to, and talking to your customers, you will understand their needs better and thus generate increased opportunity.

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S P Brewery has had a significant shift towards a customer focus in their commercial operation for the past two years.

‘The biggest issue that has to be overcome is the mindset that only an expatriate has the ability to perform a role.’

Since 2013, SP has invested heavily in the training and customer focus orientation of their commercial team, and continues to do so.

Their sales force, customer service team and sales executives have participated in a five-day program of sales and customer focus training, followed by in-field coaching and development.

The program has already made a significant impact in SP’s operation and is being rewarded with increased customer satisfaction and sales growth. Feedback from their customers is extremely favourable and SP’s customers say they appreciate the way the new approach is focused on their own profitability too.

Skilled local management


Leadership training at Ela Motors

When an organisation invests in Papua New Guineans for management positions, the results are significant. When the right person has the right leadership development, results and profitability flow rather quickly.

I have witnessed the success of the investment in local management with many companies across PNG. The biggest issue that has to be overcome is the mindset that only an expatriate has the ability to perform a role.

One of the most significant investments in local leadership development has been by Toyota Tsusho’s subsidiary in PNG, Ela Motors.

For the past two years, it has invested significant funds in the development of their top 50 national managers. This investment has, and will continue to pay off for Toyota Tsusho, as the investment brings far greater returns than the funds invested.

One success story arising from their commitment to national leadership development was the promotion of their first ever female dealership manager in January of this year.

Toyota Tsusho continue developing their national staff in leadership skills and build their management capabilities for the future growth of the company.

Robert de Loryn is Managing Director of RdL Management Consultants


  1. Time to focus on customer service and developing local managers. This needs to be tweeted and twi-lighted into the national psyche.

    The nonsense of associating expertise to expatriates is a self-defeatist thought pattern that needs to wiped off from all spheres of life in general from our beautiful country.

    What is continued to be tolerated in the PNG Corporate landscape is a 21st century blight – akin to colonialism.

  2. Eunice Gware says

    Thank-you Robert de Loryn . I am of the opinion that the PNG Labour department should only issue work permits provided a localisation plan is submitted together. It should then conduct schedule visits to see whether the localisation plans were realised or not. We the labour force of PNG are their customers and they should attending to our needs.

  3. Jane Salin says

    Agree with Anja Blyton and ask why the government, through the Labour Department is not asking companies in PNG about their localisation programs. At a 30+ years operation like Ok Tedi Mining Limited where I worked for 8 years, there are foreigners/expats on generous remuneration packages who have been there for over 10, 15, 20 years. Obviously according to OTML, these foreigners have special skills that PNG nationals do not have (although some of these expats are over a certain age and have little academic qualifications that do not qualify them for a job that would pay the kind of money they receive here in PNG ) : I had thought that foreigners were supposedly here, firstly to make money for themselves unless they were missionaries and secondly were required to transfer their skills to PNG nationals under localisation plans of their employers. ? Obviously I am making a big assumption about the role of expats in up-skilling PNG nationals. Unless PNG upskills its own people in the workforce, we will continue to be paid as second class citizens because apparently according to certain sections of the public and private sectors we do not have the right skill sets nor the ethical conduct/integrity to take over the management roles that major corporations need to be performed in the development of various projects in PNG. Cry our beloved country!

  4. Anja Blyton says

    Thank you Robert de Loryn. The “it can only be done by an expat” mentality has been something that we in the PNG corporate workforce have been battling for decades. It has been contributed to in part by our archaic Labour laws which have inculcated a culture of “well it’s a management job so we should get an expat and pay him/her double what we would pay a PNGean”. Those days are over, we have Papua New Guinean graduates from all over the world including Harvard now working here so the pool of management prospects is much wider and of a higher level than say 20 years ago. More importantly, we have a growing population of consumers who want quality in their products and customer service. So we are better placed than ever to supply excellent PNGean managers and consumers who demand quality service. Good on you Ela Motors. What a feeling!

  5. All Companies that have invested in localisation, traioning and developmnet of their national workforce are seeing the rewards now. In the times of importing expats and skill leadership is very expensive, Corporate PNG especially foreign owned are leaking their wounds regretting…could done better or done something….

    With I would like comment Toyota and Ela Motors PNG in the leadership development program…I would like to challenge them to extend the LEAN way or the Toyota way of doing things to the greater PNG especially the public sector.

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