53 year old Mochudi born, Lorato Pheto is not just passionate about customer service but lives it as well.
Long before customer service was all the buzz, Pheto was serving with a smile and attention much to the delight of patrons and her employer.
So well that it was her attention to detail that landed her with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) where she has worked for 32 years.
Popularly known as My Salary or My Pay slip, Pheto is revered by many that have over the years frequented the KFC outlets.
She shares her journey and how she came to earn the name she responds to with pride.
Many years ago whilst still at her then new job, Pheto had expressed her concern that two hours into opening the fast food restaurant there were no customers.
In a panic she sought counsel of a colleague.
“What are we going to do? She exclaimed! The surprised colleague turned to her and asked what she was on about. “The till is empty and if the situation continuous we will not get paid at the end of the month.”
She retorted in panic. The colleague found this bizarre and assured Pheto that their salaries would be paid.
Not convinced, Pheto had asked; “How if we are not bringing in any money? Surely the store owner needed the product to sell to be able to pay us.”
“How is that our problem? They have money, look at this building,”said the colleague.
Pheto resorted to what she knew best and hit the streets to lure customers and soon the store was packed with people buying.
Delighted by this Pheto told the colleague they would indeed get paid.
Pointing to the people in the store, Pheto referred to them as her salary and the name would years later still be used.
” I appreciate that people take the time to frequent our place of work and spend their hard earned cash. The least one can do is to show one’s appreciation and ensure the customer feels welcome and appreciated,” shares the warm Pheto.
After quitting her job at the fast food outlet, Pheto joined a cosmetic company under the tutelage of Sally Pillar.
“I loved my job and interacting with people. It never occurred to me that I was going beyond what was expected.”
Though she was tasked with the responsibility of guiding clients through their purchases, on less busy days Pheto would stand outside the shop and interest potential customers to visit their outlet.
Her infectious laughter and warm demeanor would soon attract many much to the delight of the shop owner.
She was recruited from the shop by the then director at KFC after an encounter that would shape her career.
“I had gone to KFC to get lunch for my boss. As it was my first time there, I asked some ladies that worked in the nearby stores to accompany me. We were fascinated by the store and had interacted with some of the staff that worked there before.”
Pheto says it was common knowledge that the director was tough and did not bat an eyelid in dismissing staff.
In the store, Pheto had diligently placed her order and even asked after the cashier’s wellbeing.
Unbeknown to her, the director had watched the exchange from her office and when leaving the store, the director approached the group to enquire where they worked.
Pheto was taken aback at the suggestion to consider a job at the KFC outlet. Needless to say, she was honest with the director that no one lasted under her employ.
“The lady went on to ask how much I earned and promised to double my salary. This was too good to be true. It was a lot of money then and I wasn’t sure what to make of the offer. True to her word, the lady met with my then boss and offered to buy me out of the job. I then started at KFC.
Qucikly realizing that many did not adhere to the set standards hence their loss of jobs, Pheto vowed to work hard and gain insight on the business.
32 years later through many changes, Pheto is still regarded as an asset to the business.
“I have never failed a test and continue to treat all customers as king,” she says with laughter. My favorites are families who come in with their children. I greet the kids first and guide them through the menu and many come back. Surprisingly Pheto declined a managerial post citing that she did not want to work in the back office and have limited contact with customers. “One must know what they are good at and excel in that area. I was happy being at the forefront and could then advise my superiors on what was working and not.”
Her efforts did not go unnoticed and her name has frequently come up as a star employee.
“I have participated in many programmes within the company and outside.” Even through life’s challenges, Pheto has remained upbeat and positive. “ One should never take their problems out on customers and on my worst days I leaned on prayer and did my best”.
Pheto can’t help showing her excitement for being named a customer star by consumer watchdog.
Her win was recognized by her employer who facilitated her first flight experience to Maun and Kasane.
“Though the trip was truly out of this world, it was being recognized by fellow travelers whom I had served at some point that really warmed my heart.”
Looking to the future, Pheto says though she still enjoys her work she wishes to own a business.
“It has been a fruitful 32 years as an employee at KFC. I have managed to put my children through school and acquired some assets. I do however wish to one day own a car and open a customer training centre to share my experiences and help others grow in their own journeys.