Aki Kalliatakis is the founder and Managing Partner of The Leadership LaunchPad, a business focused on consulting and training in customer loyalty and customer care for almost 32 years. His degree in psychology gave him the basis for understanding people issues at work, and – after working in various positions in a number of industries – he now focuses exclusively on helping clients improve their customer management capabilities.
The major goals of this work include acting as a guide to clients for creating the architecture, infrastructure, capability, and culture for customer profitability and loyalty. This includes a proprietary diagnostic instrument from which a company’s strategy will emerge.
Aki is often invited to do keynote talks at local and international conferences, and conducts seminars and workshops for many global blue chip clients. As a keynote speaker, Aki dispenses practical advice for delighting customers, and his passionate, humorous and entertaining style reflects his childhood dream of playing in a rock band – a dream which he has not completely abandoned just yet! In addition, as a “closet academic,” Aki lectures on various MBA and Executive Development Programmes at a number of local and international business schools like UCT Graduate School of Business, Wits Business School, Duke, (USA,) and Henley Business School.
His energy and enthusiasm for customer management is obvious, and he is also a voracious reader and writer. With eight business books (including a business novel,) under his belt, and literally hundreds of articles in management journals like the Financial Mail, websites like BizCommunity, he also regularly appears on various South African television and radio programmes, including CNBC, BDTV, 702, Kaya FM, Classic FM, PowerTalk, Cape Talk 786, and Chai FM.
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Since 1997, Aki has helped companies to develop their corporate strategic customer service plans. The client list includes companies likeLiberty, Nando’s, Dimension Data, MTN, SA Breweries, Barclays, Nedbank, Netcare, Mauritian Commercial Bank, Afrox, Standard Bank, Early Bird Farms, AstraZeneca, Sasol, Johnnic Communications, VW South Africa, and many, many others.
While Aki prefers to customise every presentation for the audience’s needs, his expertise lies in helping companies and people to achieve their best potential. As such he develops talks around the achievement of organisational success with customers, but knows that it goes far beyond the platitudes often shared by executives. He can help all audiences to obtain insight into why taking care of customers is so important, what needs to happen from the customer’s perspective, and how every person in the company can play a role through their actions. For managers, getting the best from their teams, or Turning Ducks into Eagles is about making sure that every person is not only able, but also willing and allowed to be the best they can be. How do create powerful habits in your culture without demoralising your team?
For people who work with customers every day, there are many skills and attitudes that help them discover The Magic in YOU! His most popular presentation is Delight Your Customers, and when it comes to dealing with issues when customers are unhappy, angry or experiencing difficulties, he shows how to Turn Terrorists into Angels. In This is Radical Marketing, he shows how the world of innovative marketing and navigating to the uncharted, unexplored, unexpected areas of customer experience can be where a business’s future lies.
Most recently, as he approaches the traditional retirement age of 65, he has put together a really funny presentation on The Confessions of a Never-to-Retire Mad Man. In this he shares the lessons he has learned in the past forty years, and challenges conventional thinking to describe the true reality of business. He has also learned that the future of business lies primarily in the internet, so in his presentation Breaking Orbit, Click by Click, he examines the ways in which every business, large or small, can create unbelievable levels of customer loyalty.
Whether you seek to boost the morale or build the skills of everyone at all levels in your company – from salespeople, call centre agents, cashiers and tellers, receptionists, credit controllers, security guards, front-line staff as well as those in the back office support – Aki Kalliatakis has addressed hundreds of thousands of delegates from Tehran to Toronto, from Gaborone to Georgia, from Durban to Dubai, and from Mali to Malaysia – with rave reviews. And the best new is that most of these are from young people who say this is the first time they see an old Baby Boomer that “gets it.”
Here is a sample of comments made by delegates in the recent past …
- Thank you s-o-o much Aki – People at MS seriously loved your presentation – you brought so much energy back into the room! I loved it and you did me so proud! (Leanne Hannigan, Marketing Lead, Microsoft.)
- Aki Kalliatakis’ presentation was extremely insightful to me in terms of revealing new ways to look at the issue of customer care and customer service into the realm of the work-place. Indeed, he illustrated that professionalism into the work-place does not only revolve around being competent about your own product and advertising your service, but also about how you treat your customer… Aki’s presentation was also impressive in terms of the approach he chose to deal and interact with us – his audience. Consciously or unconsciously, we believed every word that he said. The jokes he made and the references to his own personal life revealed him as an honest and a very pleasant person to me. He really made this session an unforgettable experience for me! (Susan M, DiData SA)
- More than just a cup of coffee: Many are the times we leave the comfort of our homes to have a cup of coffee in the company of a beloved one in an up-market coffee shop. The essence behind this usually goes beyond just a cup of coffee but to have a shared experience. As Aki Kalliatakis delightfully pointed out in his profound exposition on customer care, it is not the product that matters most but the experience one has with the product. Such an experience entails the ability to reach out and make a difference. (Gavin Hulbert, Wood Group Mustang,Toronto)
- In my past work as a customer service agent, I learnt that, it is when customers experience frustrations and aggravation that I also have and incredible golden opportunity to create loyal relationships. Loyal relationships are created by means of acknowledging and giving customers a special treatment that makes them feel unique through seeking their opinion. However it requires some element of humility and assertiveness to generate a sense of family among valuable customers. (Maxwell Nyamajiwa, Growth Point Properties)
- Aki Kalliatakis’ presentation has really touched all of us. I have read through many other peoples’ blogs but his presentation made it come alive, and it seems to me that everybody has enjoyed his session a lot. Apart from teaching us about the importance of customer care and customer service in the workplace, he also interacted with us in various ways. It brought fun to everybody in the group. (Valentin, W, Cape Town)
- · …True, it is about relationships. Usually I am a bit sceptical of the customer care thing. I mean they make fancy names and say fancy things but they often hide a lot as well. In the end, if you take relationships (between service provider and customer) serious, you have to be honest and deliver. If customer oriented business moves into that direction, all the better. Business is about relationships and they need to be given care and due attention. (Thomas Blaser)
- Three and a half hours slipped by unnoticed as Aki Kalliatakis – Customer Service, MD of Leadership Launchpad, delivered his boisterous and passionate talk on customer care. As our eyes followed his every move across the room, you could see that he had cast a spell on every intern [customer] present. And so it must be with any organisation that aims at growing its business; its focus must revolve around meeting the needs of customers as well as captivating their interests. Because customers are the life blood of business, care must be taken to find them; win them over; and retain them if a business is to thrive in markets characterised by cut-throat competition. As Kalliatakis pointed out, “… in Africa, when the sun comes up, you had better be running”. (Mohamed Al Hashemi, Majid al Futtaim, Dubai)
- Aki showed that a bunch of highly motivated people at work in customer care does not have to be a dreary depressing affair. For managers, a day’s job incorporates fun, games and profits, all rolled into one. Their positive attitude to work transforms even the most mundane task at any company a fun activity, not just for employees, but also for the customers. (Adan Mukendi, Stanbic Bank, Lagos)
- As I hang on to every word he said, the words written on the cover-sheet of his presentation rang true. “Delight your customers with positively outrageous service”… and delighted with the customer care lecture Kalliatakis delivered, I was! (Brandon Jeremy, Senior Conference/Training Producer, Kuala Lumpur)
- · … I am glad that you share my impression of Aki Kalliatakis’ presentation. I feel exactly the same way as you describe. His presentation was really enjoyable and he interacted with each one of us in various ways. These kinds of presentations are really unforgettable and unconsciously or consciously you believe in every word that he says. The way Aki Kalliatakis communicates and interacts with you is really amazing. (Errol van Graan, Head of Customer Operations, Vodacom.)
- We could see that he knows what means ‘delight’. What I have like the most is the way he approaches his life. He can confess that he had failed in mathematics and that soon he will give up on the business and will devote himself to his family and community. Truly speaking I don’t know many people who can do so. I identify myself to him as I have realise that life is not necessary about money. And that I should delight those I love the most first and myself after. Itai Karonga, BancABC, Botswana)
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