Student Showcase: Khumela William Malapa

It is with great pride and joy that we celebrate alongside our Da Vinci Doctoral candidate – Khumela William Malapa, who has recently met The Institute’s prerequisites towards graduation. To paraphrase Sigmund Freud: One day, in retrospect, the years of your toil on your Doctoral journey will strike you as the most remarkable!

Originally from the rural area of Vuwani (Venda) in the Limpopo province, Mr Malapa relocated to the Gauteng province for work. It was in the telecommunications industry that Mr Malapa found his vocation, where he has been working for over 20 years. He has certainly experienced the myriad of telecommunications conundrums and shifts where he now co-creates as a project manager. It is through these transformations in the telecommunications sector, as well as an insatiable thirst and quest for knowledge that ultimately led Mr Malapa to enrol with The Da Vinci Institute for his Doctoral degree – to seek an academic perspective in finding sustainable solutions for challenges faced by his organisation.

Mr Malapa states that having “realised the daily complaints from customers about the telecommunications company’s lack of customer service,” propelled me to develop “an interest in [realising] a customer services framework to assist the South African telecommunications company to [improve] its customer services.”

The impulse in Mr Malapa and the strong sense of responsibility that kept him going is a journey that probably had its fair share of challenges, however, his travel has lead him to the attainment of the apex qualification – a Doctorate. Mr Malapa concurs that “it was not an easy journey considering one’s responsibilities at work. As expected, I had to still meet my work’s deliverables which also overlapped to afterhours [–] time to focus on my studies was then limited.” Through sheer hard work and endurance he was able to produce a thesis that provides return on investment for his organisation and sector and simultaneously contributes to the body of knowledge in the field.

His thesis, titled: “Towards a Customer Services Framework in the telecommunications service industry: A case of a South African Telecommunications Company,” recognises the reality that the “… telecommunications sector is transforming at a faster pace due to technological advancements, thus service providers are expected to reconfigure their business models to address customer requirements. With a plethora of service quality delivery challenges, [this] study was motivated to develop a conceptual model to address the challenges”, thereof. The research, “established that bad service is exacerbated by poor technical skills, lack of aftersales support, long turnaround times, and poor customer relationship management. It was also established that customer handling and escalation procedures were not clearly communicated to customers. The use of obsolete technology was revealed as a major contributing factor to the poor quality of customer services.”

Ultimately, when the research was completed and findings were at hand, Mr Malapa’s study made some insightful recommendations, including: “… the implementation of wireless technologies and information systems security to mitigate cybercrimes”. It was also realised that “the employees’ technical skills deficiencies [to make use of the recommended wireless tech and information systems] could only be addressed by providing them with technical skills training, especially on new products.” In addition to the mentioned recommendations, it was noted that “the response turnaround times were not acceptable to customers, and therefore a proper customer complaint handling and escalation process was recommended to be developed and communicated to all customers as a way of improving the response turnaround time.” Furthermore, “a customer services framework was developed as a major contribution of this study, [and further] research can be conducted to understand how the firm’s internal resources and tools contribute to improving total quality management.”

The Da Vinci Institute sings praises for Khumela William Malapa today for his great efforts in making definitive strides towards solving the complex telecommunications’ conundrums, contributing to not only his organisation’s sustainable solutions but also potentially the sectors, whilst simultaneously harnessing his remarkability. For this, he truly has become a systemic thinker within a complex industry. The reality, however, is the fact that his adventure has just began…we look forward to seeing how Mr Malapa further showcases his remarkability, contributing to the co-creation of sustainable organisations as a problem solver, flying the Da Vinci kite even higher!