Meet the hero behind City of Jozi’s twitter account

TUMELO KOMAPE, better known in the Twittersphere as TK is one of the faces behind the City of Joburg’s Twitter account. He told Mbali Zwane how he manages to keep his sense of humour while responding to an entire city’s complaints and service delivery frustrations.

TK CoJTumelo Komape (30) has garnered a following online for his light touch in responding to often tetchy service complaints from residents of the City of Joburg (COJ). Originally from Limpopo, Komape is a communications graduate from the University of the Western Cape and a jazz enthusiast. He later moved to Johannesburg and joined the COJ as the organisation’s webmaster. He is currently the city’s digital communications manager.

Q: Who is Tumelo Komape?
A: I’m both an introvert and extrovert, depending on my surroundings and the company around me. After I matriculated, I enrolled to study journalism but I ended up in communications because of the orientation of the modules. I didn’t even know what it meant to be a journalist. Then I wanted to be a journalist and a musician at the same time. At one point I wanted to be a journalist, a musician and a computer guru.

Q: Is there a difference in personalities between Tumelo Komape and TK?
A: Not really. The only difference might be that TK thinks through what he’s going to say, and tries to phrase it in a diplomatic way, whereas Tumelo just shoots. I have to be professional at all times so I’ll type a tweet, edit and rephrase it three times before sending it. Other than that, we both enjoy humour.

Q: How do you keep your sense of humour from burning out?
A: I don’t think it can burn out because people, customers, are my source of fun. They’re different so my humour is always evolving. I don’t work from a script so I constantly have to apply my mind and adjust my personality or level of humour according to the different customers.

Q: Have you gotten into trouble for the tweets or interaction with customers?
A: No, I don’t think I can get in trouble because I craft the tweets carefully. Although some tweets [that we receive] are offensive and provocative, I remain calm and don’t take it personally because they’re mad at the brand and not me. Customers vary so my approach and response will always be equal to the customer. Sometimes I have to apply my human approach before using the business process to assist customers.

TK tweet

Q: Where did you learn customer service?
A: I have seven years’ experience in marketing and four years in customer service, mostly call centre related. I’ve learnt to develop a thick skin and deal with customers in between all that. I had to come up with a strategy to deal with customers in a way that was not frustrating.

Q: Does humour help you deal with customers?
A: Yes. Our environment is very stressful so we always try to approach things from a lighthearted point of view. I’m not a robot and I want residents to be aware that it’s a human being behind the account. I don’t work from a script. I’m here to assist customers, and I do that with a human element.

Q: What is the strategy behind the City’s social media? A: When I took over the Twitter account, we had less than 3,000 followers. Now we’re sitting at more than 167,000 followers. This is because we increased our engagement and interaction with residents instead of pushing notifications and broadcast messages. Our interaction rate was 11%, and 89% was outgoing messages and notifications. Flipping this around has been fruitful. This strategy demands time so you can imagine, we work as though we don’t have lives and families. It’s not a 9 to 5 job.

Q: How efficient is the City in resolving queries? A: I log the issue on the system as soon as a customer reports it. I deal with about 700 to 1,000 queries daily and our entities have a certain turnaround time to respond to the query or complaint. The follow-up process is quick, although the organisation is still catching up. Social media requires us to be faster than before so we’re currently discussing ways to improve our turnaround time.

Q: How has social media assisted the city in improving services?
A: Social media is able to expose things that wouldn’t have been exposed had it not been for it. Residents tweet us pictures of people sleeping on the job or burst water pipes and we’re able to send these to depots immediately and hold them accountable for any faults not attended to. It keeps us in check, so we’re constantly in the loop about anything negative and we try to attend to it ASAP.

Q: What is the role of social media in good governance?
A: It is everything. It’s the biggest thing to happen in the digital era. It helps organisations be aware of anything and everything that has to do with their brand, whether positive or negative. People dread calling call centres to enquire or complain; social media has given them an alternative. Organisations are forced to provide quality service all the time because anything negative shared on social media, is a reputational risk for brands. Social media has changed business operations.

Featured image supplied.